Is Trump Going Soft on Immigration?

There are indications that Donald Trump may be preparing a drastic change in his immigration policy. As almost everyone has heard, Trump has called illegal border crossers  “rapists” and “criminals.” If elected, he has promised to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

The Spanish-language TV network Univisión reports that Donald Trump may be planning an about face. He had a meeting with prominent Hispanics yesterday, August 20, during which he reportedly suggested that he will present a plan this week to regularize the situation of millions of people who are in the United States illegally. The plan supposedly would not give these people a path to US citizenship but would allow them to remain in this country without fear of deportation.

The Trump campaign itself has refused to give any details about the proposed new immigration plan, but it has also not denied that such a plan is in the works.

Most surveys put Donald Trump’s support among likely Hispanic voters at around 20 percent and that of African-Americans at close to zero percent. No candidate in recent history has managed to be elected president with such low support among Hispanic voters, and no candidate has ever had such low support among African-Americans.

The question is, will Donald Trump’s new plan attract enough minority votes to elect him president? No matter how good the plan is, that is unlikely. The negative opinion of Donald Trump among ethnic minorities is very firmly entrenched. Perhaps the goal is to swing the votes of educated white voters who normally vote for the Republican candidate but are repulsed by Donald Trump’s racist and jingoistic remarks.

Trump’s reported change in immigration policy seems to follow his softer attitude this week in his campaign appearances. Instead of running off at the mouth with all sorts of destructive insults that get him negative headlines around the globe, he has been reading his speeches from a TelePrompter and sticking to the prepared text. He also made a tentative apology this past week to those whom he might have offended by his intemperate remarks without specifying exactly to which groups he was extending the apology or which intemperate remarks he might like to retract.

We will have to see what the  details of the new immigration policy are, assuming there really is a new policy. If Donald Trump insists on designing the policy himself, it is almost certain to be a disaster. If he lets more reasonable people write it for him, it may be a policy that many Americans can accept.

The other question is, if Donald Trump does soften his attitude on illegal immigration, will his traditional supporters abandon him? What will those who feel wronged by the presence of non-European immigrants in the United States do on Election Day if Donald Trump stops giving voice to their anger? They certainly will not vote for Hillary Clinton, but perhaps they will lose their enthusiasm for Donald Trump and stay home on Election Day. His new immigration policy could end up further diminishing the number of his supporters instead of attracting new ones.