The Republican candidate, now nosediving in the opinion polls, once again launches vitriolic verbal attacks on illegal immigrants, hours after playing peacemaker during a visit to Mexico.
Donald Trump, weakened by his persistent fall in opinion polls, has increased his political acrobatics in his attempts to win over new groups of voters without losing those who have enabled his rise to power. On Wednesday alone, he managed to give two speeches that were almost diametrically opposed on immigration, a central theme to his campaign. Republicans did, however, subsequently call upon the candidate to clarify his position on the subject.
A few hours after praising Mexicans as “spectacular, spectacular hard-working people” as well as their “strong values of family, faith and community,” taking up the position of statesman during a shared press conference with the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, the billionaire once again galvanized his supporters in Arizona that evening by presenting illegal immigrants as dangerous criminals. In top form onstage at the meeting in Phoenix, he promised to deport all undocumented immigrants without exception and to contain those who wished to remain in the United States legally by leaving the country initially, in order to later return. “We will break the cycle of amnesty and illegal immigration,” he declared, without clarifying how he intended to go about this, suggesting in passing that he would also deport Hillary Clinton.
Although he did not bring up the issue of who would finance the wall that he intends to build along the border with the Mexican president, he vowed to make his neighbor pay for it once he had returned to the United States. “They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for the wall,” he promised a white-hot crowd. And if, while in Mexico, he said he wanted to “improve” NAFTA, the free trade agreement that links the two countries to Mexico, once he was in Phoenix, he promised to restore an increased customs duty on imported products.