The Corner

Making Amnesty Great Again?

Trump got much closer to embracing an amnesty during a sometimes bizarre townhall with Sean Hannity tonight. Trump spoke the language of amnesty, which always involves denying you are granting an amnesty and talking about meaningless things like illegal immigrants paying back-taxes (it would presumably be difficult to know how much they owe, and many illegal immigrants wouldn’t owe income taxes in any case). Trump said he would “work with” the illegal immigrants who aren’t “the bad ones.” I suppose, since Trump’s views are so poorly formed on all this, there’s still a chance he will pull back (in perhaps a first for a presidential nominee, he took a poll of the audience on what position he should take). But all the indications are that he is in the midst of executing a massive flip-flop on one of his signature issues, and for many of his supporters, an animating cause. This would be a betrayal of them, not that they will want to hold him to account. For that reason, the policy shift may not hurt him–he would sand off one of his rough edges for Hispanics and suburban moderates and not lose support from his base. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign wants to attack him as dangerous, not as a flip-flopper. But Trump is falling for the classic liberal false choice that it’s either mass deportation (his old position) or an amnesty (his emerging one). Neither makes sense or is prudent, but Trump may end up embracing both in the course of one campaign.


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