The Corner

Trump Tries Again on Immigration

Realizing how badly he screwed up Wednesday night in his immigration comments, Donald Trump engaged in damage control Thursday, both at a rally in Nevada and through an interview with Breitbart.

At the rally in Sparks, Nev., near Reno, he clarified that he wants only the top foreign students from only the top universities to be able to stay. “With the workers you’re taking about…” he told an audience member who asked about foreign workers imported on H-1B visas replacing Americans, “we have to make sure our people are working first. I don’t mind taking people at all, but we have to make sure we need them, and we have to make sure that our people are taken care of.”

He went into more detail with Breitbart, and was more strident. He denounced the practice of replacing Americans with H-1Bs (most notoriously by Disney), acknowledged that no tech labor shortage exists because we are producing more STEM graduates than STEM jobs, denounced Rubio’s I-Squared bill to triple H-1B admissions, called Rubio a “puppet” of Silicon Valley who is “incapable of telling the truth” and who “should be disqualified for dishonesty alone,” adding that “Senator Rubio works for the lobbyists, not for Americans.”          

His final answer would have been a lively addition to the debate, if he’d had the wit to say it:

I am calling TODAY on Disney to hire back every one of the workers they replaced, and I am calling on Rubio to immediately rescind his sponsorship of the I-Squared bill and apologize to every Floridian for endorsing it. I am further calling on Rubio to return the money he has received from Silicon Valley CEOs and to donate the money to a charity helping unemployed Americans whose jobs Rubio has helped to destroy.

He’ll have another chance to say all this to Rubio’s (and maybe Cruz’s?) face at the Fox Business/Wall Street Journal debate Nov. 10. Will he?

Peter Robinson and David Limbaugh on this week’s Ricochet podcast may have put their finger on what happened at Wednesday’s debate. After Limbaugh asked “Did not Trump act like a magnanimous adult last night?”, Peter observed, “He’s starting to believe he can actually become president, so he’s muting the whole act that carried him to the top of the polls in the first place. The more he thinks he can become president, the more he’s going to lose ground.” In other words, Trump may have been trying to rein in the bombast for the debate, but also ended up trimming on the substance.

As he figured out quickly, backtracking on substance – especially on immigration, which is what shot him to the top in the first place – will end his candidacy in a heartbeat, since he’s supposed to be the un-buyable anti-politician who speaks truth to power. The central question for Trump’s whole effort, then, is whether he can dial back on the braggadocio while still channeling the public’s anger at our duplicitous leaders and our failing institutions. As Peter put it, “If Donald Trump begins to present himself with a presidential comportment, while still holding on to the combative substance, this guy could go all the way.”

As we saw last night, that’s a big “if.”

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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