On bor­der, Trump drags GOP to edge

Im­mi­gra­tion stance lacks mass ap­peal

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Cath­leen Decker

WASH­ING­TON — Don­ald Trump’s ag­gres­sively tough speech on im­mi­gra­tion buried the no­tion that he planned to pivot away from the pos­ture that got him the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion to a gen­tler po­si­tion tai­lored for more mod­er­ate gen­eral elec­tion vot­ers, Repub­li­cans in­cluded.

It also may have buried his party’s strat­egy for longterm survival: the ef­fort to ap­peal to the Latino and Asian vot­ers who are re­plac­ing the wan­ing num­bers of white vot­ers on whom the GOP has long de­pended.

Trump’s Wed­nes­day night re­marks made clear that he in­tends to try to win the pres­i­dency with the group that won him the nom­i­na­tion — mostly male, white vot­ers who feel stressed by the econ­omy, the rapid changes in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety or both — in de­fi­ance of fears even among other Repub­li­cans that such a base is not big enough to se­cure the White House.

Mike Madrid, a Cal­i­for­nia GOP strate­gist who has sought to broaden the party’s reach among non­white vot­ers, de­clared him­self “stunned” at Trump’s ap­proach.

“We’re wit­ness­ing the end of the party,” he said.

On Wed­nes­day night, Trump re­it­er­ated his call for a gi­ant wall on the U.S.-Mexico bor­der. He said that his im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity as pres­i­dent would be de­port­ing those im­mi­grants in the U.S. il­le­gally who are in­volved in crimes but also as­serted that no one in the coun­try with­out proper doc­u­ments would be out­side the reach of de­por­ta­tion of­fi­cers. He also ex­panded on a plan to curb le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Chil­dren drag Don­ald Trump pinatas as they urge Cal­i­for­nia Lati­nos to vote against him.

Trump re­ferred re­peat­edly to “crim­i­nal aliens” — words that are taken as a slap by many Lati­nos — and painted a world in which vi­o­lent hordes were stream­ing over the bor­der to tar­get Amer­i­cans. (Both crime and im­mi­gra­tion lev­els re­main near his­toric lows.)

Ear­lier in the day, dur­ing a quick visit with Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto, Trump had praised Latino im­mi­grants as “spec­tac­u­lar” and “hard-work­ing.” But by Wed­nes­day night he was cast­ing them and other im­mi­grants as some­thing more akin to a blight.

The views Trump ex­pressed have an in­tense ap­peal among his most loyal sup­port­ers but not among a ma­jor­ity of rank-and-file Repub­li­cans.

Since 2013, ac­cord­ing to the non­par­ti­san Pew Re­search Cen­ter, ma­jori­ties of both Repub­li­cans and Democrats have said those here il­le­gally should be able to stay un­der some con­di­tions. Over­all, 74 per­cent of Amer­i­cans in a re­cent Pew sur­vey said they fa­vored al­low­ing such im­mi­grants le­gal pro­tec­tion. Only 23 per­cent dis­agreed.

Re­cently, how­ever, Repub­li­can lead­ers, con­cerned about po­lit­i­cal re­tal­i­a­tion from im­mi­gra­tion op­po­nents, have drawn a more con­ser­va­tive line than those sen­ti­ments might sug­gest. Their party al­ready has suf­fered for it.

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, in his 2004 re-elec­tion cam­paign, won the sup­port of 40 per­cent of Latino vot­ers, ac­cord­ing to exit sur­veys. Eight years later, Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney, who sug­gested Lati­nos should “self-de­port,” won 27 per­cent.

Worse yet for Repub­li­cans, as their num­bers have slumped among Lati­nos — and Asians, who vote sim­i­larly and are like­wise in­ter­ested in im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy — the sizes of those groups have grown.

A Pew study of statewide

EUGENE GAR­CIA/EPA

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