By Joe Guzzardi
July 22, 2016
In his acceptance speech, Donald Trump outlined dozens of social and economic problems that for the last several years have plagued and perplexed the nation. Trump’s timing and his appeal to voters was well-timed. Recent Gallup polling found that overall only 17 percent of Americans are satisfied with the nation’s direction. The discontent is bipartisan: 29 percent of Democrats approve of trends since 2008 while a meager five percent of Republicans are on board.
Trump touched on a host of issues that, in his view, urgently need correction. Topping his long list are ending global terror, rebuilding the U.S. military, restoring law and order, reducing the $19 trillion dollar debt, improving race relations, and revitalizing inner cities that past administrations have failed, in Trump’s words, “on every level” to provide for residents’ education, safety, and employment.
On immigration and trade, his signature issues, Trump was bold. He attacked the White House for allowing sanctuary cities to harbor illegal criminal aliens. Although illegal immigrants have perpetrated thousands of capital crimes, Trump referenced Kate Steinle’s murder last year in San Francisco as among the most heartbreaking. Trump singled out catch and release practices at the border as a major contributing factor in illegal immigrants’ senseless murders of innocent Americans. The GOP nominee repeated his pledge to build a border wall, and to suspend immigration from Middle Eastern nations compromised by terrorism until proven vetting procedures are in place.
Trade is also an issue that will likely resonate for Trump, especially in the Mid-Western states that have experienced a massive jobs exodus since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The Washington D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute’s research shows that NAFTA led to a net one million American jobs lost. In swing state Ohio, NAFTA cost workers about 300,000 jobs.
Although the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia will not convene until next week, presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton will introduce a more liberal immigration platform. Clinton has vowed to give most illegal immigrants legal status and to eventually allow them to apply for citizenship. In addition, Clinton promised to open an Office of Immigrant Affairs.
While most Democrats acknowledge that Clinton is more aligned with their immigration views than Trump, some wonder if her advocacy is about votes rather than sincere conviction, and point to some of her frequent flip-flops as evidence.
Clinton has variously opposed, then supported drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants, favored then rejected returning unaccompanied minors to Central America. And as to Trump’s highly controversial border wall proposal, Clinton said at a 2015 New Hampshire Town Hall, “I voted several times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in, and I do think you have to control your borders.”
Come November, immigration will be the deciding issue for millions of voters. The nation is divided between those who think tighter enforcement at the border and in the interior is imperative, and those who want more immigration and generous affirmative benefits granted to unlawful entrants.
Don’t trust immigration polling as a reflection of voters’ feelings. Questions phrased a certain way, words specifically omitted or purposely added can prompt an unreliable answer. The nation’s true immigration sentiments will be known on November 8, and, likely, not before.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19