Donald Trump’s core constituency can rest easy. The politically incorrect statements that have become the hallmark of the Republican candidate’s campaign are back, and any illusions that Trump was “softening” his stance on immigration have been dispelled. For the last few weeks, Trump and his campaign team had been hinting at a change in his policy towards Mexican immigrants. In his most recent public address, though, he went back to the anti-immigrant tropes that seem to have worked so well for his candidacy.
Since June 15, 2015, when Donald Trump rode down an escalator while Neil Young played in the background and announced his plans to become president of America, his most consistent attacks have been against Mexican immigrants. He has called them “rapists and murderers”, and vowed to build a “big beautiful wall” that “Mexico will pay for”. He had also said that he would forcefully deport the 11 million illegal immigrants. Lately, though, Trump’s campaign manager said that his immigration policy is “yet to be determined” and he has formed a Hispanic Advisory Board consisting of 23 religious and business leaders from the community. He even visited Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and claimed in Mexico City that they “hadn’t discussed the wall”. If these events provided some comfort to the Republican establishment, wary of Trump’s brash style and Hillary Clinton’s lead in the opinion polls, it was short-lived.
Trump’s speech on immigration, like the rest of his campaign, is aimed at the insecurities and prejudices of conservative white voters. The most recent opinion polls show that Hillary’s popularity is dipping, though she is still comfortably ahead. Clearly, Trump believes that his best chance at capitalising on his opponent’s slump is by once again appealing to the lowest common denominator.