domingo, 4 de setembro de 2016

Trump’s fluctuating immigration stance worsens Republican tensions

Trump’s fluctuating immigration stance worsens Republican tensions

Mixed messages become Rorschach test for Republicans, who are drifting away from nominee after week that included vitriolic rally in Phoenix and Mexico visit

Alan Yuhas
Sunday 4 September 2016 23.58 BST

The ex-mayor of New York saw “a very big opening” to protect immigrant families and their American-born children. The governor of Indiana saw “a roadmap” to deportations and a wall, if not any signposts or directions. For a senator from Arizona, the whole thing was “just confusing”.
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Donald Trump’s mixed messages on immigration, which this week took in a demur speech in Mexico City and a vitriolic rally in Phoenix, have become a Rorschach test for Republicans, exacerbating tensions in the party as several of its leaders drift away from their party’s nominee and look toward a Democratic presidency. Disappointed by the harsh tone of Trump’s Phoenix speech, the Republican National Committee reportedly withheld planned praise.

“He pivots and then pivots right back,” the Arizona senator Jeff Flake told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “So it’s kind of a 360-degree pivot at times. That’s not clear at all. Some people said it was hardening, some said softening. I say it was just confusing.”

Flake is one of a handful of Republican senators who have refused to support Trump, though he said on Sunday he would like to escape that “uncomfortable” position and vote for the businessman.

“I’d like to see a firm position that he sticks with for a while,” he said, “and obviously I’d like to see a more realistic position in dealing with those who are here illegally now.”

But Flake also damned Trump with a hint of praise for his rival, Hillary Clinton, who has recently urged Republicans to remember that the businessman’s claims that Mexicans are “rapists” and refugees a “Trojan horse” of terrorism do not reflect their party.

“For people to be reminded that this is not what the party stands for I think is a good thing,” Flake said. “I wish more Republicans would say that as well. But if Hillary Clinton wants to say it I’m glad – I’m glad people, voters, are being reminded of it, anyway.”

On Sunday night Trump responded on Twitter – by bashing Flake. “The Republican Party needs strong and committed leaders, not weak people such as Jeff Flake, if it is going to stop illegal immigration,” he said. Shortly thereafter, he elaborated: Flake, he said, was “a very weak and ineffective senator”.

In the poll average for Arizona, which has been won by a Democratic presidential candidate once in 65 years, Trump leads Clinton by less than three points. However, a rapidly growing Hispanic population means the state’s politics are turning steadily from red to purple, if not yet blue, prompting Clinton to advertise. In attacking Flake, Trump is unlikely to aid his own Arizonan cause.

Senator John McCain, Flake’s fellow Arizona senator and the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, has started running an ad that look toward a hypothetical Clinton presidency.

“My opponent, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, is a good person,” he says in the ad. “But if Hillary Clinton is elected president, Arizona will need a senator who will act as a check, not a rubber stamp, on the White House.”

Trump is conspicuously absent from the ad: his name unsaid, his image omitted and his ideas implicitly rejected as McCain tells voters: “We need more control over our borders but also smarter immigration policies that enforce the law and reflect our values.”

McCain has not explicitly rejected Trump, who last year mocked the Vietnam war veteran for having been captured by the Vietcong, but he has repeatedly asked the businessman to apologize to other former prisoners of war. Months of such harsh rhetoric from Trump have painted Republicans like McCain in a corner, Flake admitted, by threatening to turn reliably red states like Arizona into swing states.

“It shouldn’t be up for grabs,” he said, “but frankly it is.”
‘When America is safe, we will be open to all of the options’

Even Trump’s most stalwart allies could not seem to agree about his immigration message, even though the businessman said in Phoenix: “You can call it whatever the hell you want. They (undocumented immigrants) are gone.”

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, told CNN’s State of the Union that Trump had left “a very big opening for what will happen with the people that remain here in the United States after the criminals are removed and after the border is secure”.

“When America is safe, we will be open to all of the options,” Giuliani said. According to the former mayor, Trump “would find it very, very difficult to throw out a family that’s been here for 15 years, and they have three children, two of whom are citizens. And that is not the kind of America he wants.”

Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told ABC’s This Week through crosstalk with the host that it was “correct” the businessman would deport more than just migrants with a criminal record – and then changed her tone.

“But,” she said, “no, but he also said that, once you enforce the law, once you get rid of the criminals, then we’ll see where we are.

“And we don’t know where we’ll be. We don’t know who will be left. We don’t know where they live, who they are. That’s the whole point here, that we’ve actually never tried this.”

The man who would serve Trump as vice-president, Indiana governor Mike Pence, evaded any clear answer about his running mate’s position. In an interview aired Sunday with NBC’s Meet the Press, he said: “What Donald Trump laid out this week in Arizona was really a roadmap to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country.”

Pence then rattled off some of Trump’s ideas, including a wall on the southern border, targeting people who have overstayed visas and increasing border patrol staff, but left details for the future.

“We’ll give consideration, working with the Congress, in a new and reformed immigration system, to consider it at that time,” he said.

All three said Trump would prioritize deportations of people with criminal records, the same strategy Barack Obama has taken during his two terms, during which record numbers of migrants have been deported and Border Patrol staffing has reached an all-time high. Obama has also deferred deportations for several million migrants who came to the US as children through executive actions that Trump has said he will rescind.

Giuliani also conceded the limits of Trump’s shifting deportation plans, which would eject between 4 and 11 million people and cost an estimated $50bn. But he and Conway insisted that Trump will somehow force Mexico to pay for the proposed border wall, even though Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto told Trump this week it would not.

Another ally, Trump transition team member and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, told CBS: “Donald Trump is going to get rid of, very early on, two to three million criminals that are here illegally in this country. That will be priority No1.”

Democrats had their own interpretations of Trump’s positions on immigration. Labor Secretary Tom Perez told CNN that Trump was “a loose cannon” and said his week of Janus-faced speeches “was a perfect illustration of why he’s not fit to be president”.

In a taped interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Obama was more stoic, saying anti-immigrant sentiment could be traced to the founding of the US, “but that’s not the majority of America”.

“The next generation of Americans, they utter – completely reject the kinds of positions that he’s taking,” the president said. “So overall, I’m optimistic. But, you know, I think we have to pay close attention to what’s going on.”

Polls suggest that only some voters were swayed by Trump’s winding week. In a new CBS poll, 47% of voters in swing states said they saw no change in his policy, and 37% said they thought he had slightly eased is proposals. In an ABC poll, 78% thought Trump would fail to make Mexico pay for any wall, and 67% had a negative to his speech.

Others felt his Phoenix speech a return to form: former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke tweeted “excellent speech by Donald Trump tonight” while conservative author Ann Coulter compared it favorably to the speeches of Winston Churchill.

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