Trump’s evolv­ing im­mi­gra­tion plan is no ‘flip-flop’

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Ruben Navarette Jr.

— Don­ald Trump re­ally just do a to­tal flip-flop on im­mi­gra­tion? No, I don’t be­lieve he did.

I think the elite me­dia in New York and Wash­ing­ton are once again show­ing that they don’t un­der­stand the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue well enough to re­port on it hon­estly, clearly and com­pre­hen­sively. This is a topic full of com­plex­ity and nu­ance, and the me­dia aren’t ca­pa­ble of grasp­ing ei­ther.

We see the me­dia’s ig­no­rance about im­mi­gra­tion on dis­play when net­works send re­porters to the U.S.Mex­ico border to film il­le­gal im­mi­grants when a trip to the neigh­bor­hood big-box store in New Jersey or Mary­land would suf­fice,

SAN DIEGO

when TV com­men­ta­tors sug­gest that Amer­i­cans can de­port our way to a so­lu­tion with­out think­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity that those who we de­port will come back, and when ca­ble news an­chors de­bate how to pun­ish those who are in the coun­try il­le­gally but turn a blind eye to those U.S. cit­i­zens who break the law by hir­ing them.

Now Trump has re­port­edly told mem­bers of his na­tional His­panic ad­vi­sory coun­cil that he re­gret­ted some of his more hurt­ful com­ments about His­pan­ics and that, if elected, he wants to find a “hu­mane and ef­fi­cient” man­ner to deal with im­mi­grants who are in the coun­try il­le­gally.

Ac­cord­ing to Buz­zFeed, which spoke to peo­ple at the meet­ing, Trump stressed that any such ac­com­mo­da­tion would have to take place in the con­text of in­creased border se­curi- ty and his much bal­ly­hooed wall on the U.S.-Mex­ico border. And he still plans to carry out some de­por­ta­tions.

But the real es­tate de­vel­oper did seem open to hear­ing ideas about how to deal with what he ac­knowl­edged was the tough­est part of the de­bate — what to do with those who are in this coun­try with­out the proper doc­u­ments.

And in some cases, Trump seemed to ad­mit, the proper rem­edy might in­clude a path­way to earned le­gal sta­tus. Ac­cord­ing to Univi­sion, at least one par­tic­i­pant heard Trump say that mass de­por­ta­tions aren’t the an­swer and that a bet­ter idea might be to al­low the un­doc­u­mented to sort out their le­gal sta­tus on U.S. soil through “em­bassies or con­sulates of their coun­tries.”

Those who char­ac­ter­ize this as a flip-flop point to ear­lier com­ments such as what Trump said dur­ing an in­ter­view last Au­gust on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The busi­ness­man told host Chuck Todd that the un­doc­u­mented “have to go.” In other in­ter­views, he talked about cre­at­ing a “de­por­ta­tion force.”

On Sun­day, when CNN’s Dana Bash asked Trump’s cam­paign man­ager, Kellyanne Con­way, if the nom­i­nee’s im­mi­gra­tion plan still in­cluded a de­por­ta­tion force that would re­move il­le­gal im­mi­grants, Con­way replied: “To be de­ter­mined.”

The un­doc­u­mented pop­u­la­tion in the United States is es­ti­mated at about 11 mil­lion peo­ple. Many con­ser­va­tives think these peo­ple should all be sent home, while many lib­er­als think they should all be al­lowed to stay.

Both camps are wrong. We can’t treat all these peo­ple the same. We need to sift through the pop­u­la­tion and de­port, for in­stance, the bad ac­tors who have crim­i­nal con­vic­tions for vi­o­lent crimes but not the house­keep­ers who mean no harm and sim­ply want to pro­vide for their chil­dren.

That’s com­mon sense, which ex­plains why you don’t hear this sort of thing in pro­pos­als com­ing from Wash­ing­ton — a place where com­mon sense goes to die.

I would just as soon not de­fend Trump, es­pe­cially on im­mi­gra­tion. But it doesn’t seem fair for the me­dia to be so quick to la­bel as a “flip-flop” what could just be the separate el­e­ments of a bal­anced ap­proach. Af­ter all, Pres­i­dent Obama has de­ported a record num­ber of peo­ple while still us­ing ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion to spare others that fate.

If you lis­ten closely to what Trump has said about im­mi­gra­tion since he launched his cam­paign, you’ll see he wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mex­ico border, keep out im­mi­grants who have sin­is­ter mo­tives for en­ter­ing the United States, make it eas­ier for well-in­ten­tioned im­mi­grants to come legally, and de­port those with crim­i­nal records be­fore they do more harm.

Now, Trump may have added a new piece to the puz­zle: cre­at­ing — for some of the un­doc­u­mented but not all — a path to earned le­gal sta­tus or cit­i­zen­ship.

The me­dia might be able to im­prove their bat­ting av­er­age on the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue, and fig­ure out that there is no one-size-fits-all so­lu­tion to this com­pli­cated prob­lem, if only they would give Trump some­thing they’re de­ter­mined to deny him: a fair hear­ing.

Ruben Navarette Jr. is a syn­di­cated colum­nist from the Wash­ing­ton Post. His email is reuben@ruben­navarette.com.

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