In a chilling speech on Wednesday night, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doubled down on his anti-immigrant rhetoric, adopting a cutthroat tone as he reiterated his vow to deport millions of undocumented people and build a wall on the border with Mexico—which that country would pay for, of course.
The vague, misleading, and divisive speech, lauded by the likes of right-wing pundit Ann Coulter and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, "was long on inflammatory rhetoric, and short on viable policy solutions," Raul A. Reyes wrote in his analysis for NBC News.
The tone of this speech was harsh, at times flat-out ugly. Trump thinks that Syrian refugees arriving in the U.S have it too easy, and that undocumented immigrants are treated better than veterans. He believes that we should institute an "ideological loyalty test" for prospective immigrants; never mind that this would likely be unconstitutional. He described some immigrants as a potential "Trojan Horse," and reeled off crimes allegedly committed by undocumented people.
What Trump did not do was deliver a speech grounded in fact. He ignored the reality that, according to experts and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, our border is more secure and safer than ever. He ignored the reality that illegal immigration is down, with more Mexicans leaving than entering the U.S. He ignored the reality that undocumented immigrants are our friends, family members, colleagues, employees, and neighbors. Instead viewers got a fiery tirade invoking every negative stereotype of what Trump called "criminal aliens" and a long list of all the people he plans to deport on Day One.
Indeed, Dara Lind argued at Vox, the speech in Arizona "couldn't have been clearer: If you live without papers in America, you should live in fear."
As Southern Methodist University student and "DREAMer" Jose Manuel Santoyo told his local NBC affiliate, "I have protection from deportation but there are a lot of people who don't. And that's what really worries me."
What's more, that protection isn't guaranteed under a Trump presidency, he said. "It can be taken away at any moment," Santoyo told the station. "It's an executive order. It's just like many executive orders, they come and go."
ThinkProgress zeroed in on Trump's promise to establish "a new special deportation task force focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants in America who have evaded justice."
"Though 'criminal illegal immigrants' would be the initial focus of Trump's deportation force," wrote ThinkProgress political editor A"he made clear that he wants all undocumented people out."
Video—Trump says he'll create "deportation task force" w/in ICE. On Hillary, "Maybe they'll be able to deport HER!" https://t.co/i0One2RMpM
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) September 1, 2016
The speech quashed any expectations that, given Trump's meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, "the reality television star might be pivoting from xenophobic showman to quasi-serious candidate," as Chicago Tribune columnist
"Before a raucous crowd in Arizona," Huppke wrote, "Trump returned to his natural center: angry, snarling, aggrieved and terrifying."
After spending time in Mexico praising the country's "high quality people," Trump, just hours later, launched into a rant about undocumented Mexican immigrants who have killed and raped, spinning a dystopian tale that painted all immigrants as people to be feared, people to be rounded up and hauled out of this country.
[...] He again approvingly referenced President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s deportation program "Operation Wetback," a cruel and deadly disaster from the 1950s, suggesting that Trump's version of that program would be even tougher.
The crowd cheered.
In fact, the address appeared to confirm that Trump will "continue to feed his base his customary brew of nativist and xenophobic nationalism, and count on angry non-college whites to push him over the top in a decisive handful of Rust Belt states," wrote Greg Sargent at the Washington Post.
But while Trump's words may have provided reassurance for his ultra-conservative base, the speech alienated some key supporters. Indeed, Politico reported Thursday that Trump's latest diatribe embraced such extreme rhetoric and proposals that "several major Latino surrogates" for Trump "are reconsidering their support for him."