- Eli Kantor
- Beverly Hills, California, United States
- Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com
Friday, August 26, 2016
August 25, 2016
Immigration advocates on Thursday mounted a long-shot effort to revive part of U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation by filing a lawsuit challenging the national scope of a court order that blocked it.
With favorable court rulings, the lawyers filing the lawsuit say it has the long-term potential to unravel decisions that blocked Obama's November 2014 plan nationwide. The White House program, if it had been fully implemented, could have allowed up to four million people with no legal immigration status to obtain work authorization.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York on behalf of Martin Batalla Vidal, 25, an immigrant from Mexico who has lived in the United States since he was seven and has benefited from the program.
He initially received a three-year work authorization, which has now been revoked due to a Texas judge's ruling in February 2015 that blocked Obama's plan. Texas and 25 other states had challenged it.
Vidal would still be eligible for a two-year work authorization under an earlier program, which has not been challenged and was not covered by the injunction.
Vidal's lawyers at the National Immigration Law Center say that if he wins, the ruling could have broad implications because it could help to eventually reinstate Obama's program for up to 60 percent of potential applicants in parts of the country not covered by the Texas ruling.
The Texas judge's ruling was upheld on appeal. On June 23, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on the case, leaving the appeals court decision in place.
The court is currently one justice short following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. The Supreme Court is currently considering whether to rehear the case once it has a full complement of justices.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
By Sarah Wheaton
August 23, 2016
The GOP nominee has been praising some of Obama’s immigration policies. But even Obama’s harshest critics say there’s no comparison.
Donald Trump has accused President Barack Obama of overseeing a dismal immigration situation, declaring earlier this year, “We have no border. We have no control. People are flooding across. We can’t have it.”
But as Trump softens his hardline immigration talk, he is suddenly sounding simpatico with his bitter enemy in the White House.
"What people don't know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country,” Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on Monday, as he tried to explain his latest views on immigration. “Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I'm going to do the same thing."
Trump's new campaign manager also complimented — in a backhanded way — Obama's immigration policies. "The other thing is, we think on immigration, there are very few issues where Hillary is actually to the left of Barack Obama," Kellyanne Conway said on Fox on Tuesday.
Like Trump, Obama has made enforcement the linchpin of his immigration policies, earning him the nickname “deporter-in-chief” from reform advocates who believe the president has focused too much on kicking out undocumented immigrants while not finding enough legal paths for them to stay.
Obama’s record of deporting around three million people, more than any other president, “stains his legacy,” said Frank Sharry, founder of the immigration reform group America’s Voice. And in Trump’s latest description, Sharry said, “there’s just a kernel enough of truth.”
But Sharry and other critics of Obama’s enforcement policies say there’s still no comparison with Trump’s mission.
Obama’s ultimate goal was to help millions of immigrants to stay in the country, while Trump has highlighted his plans to build a wall, ban Muslims, send back Syrian refugees and deport entire families of undocumented immigrants – even if U.S. citizens are in the mix.
“Trump is trying to name-check Obama in service of a mass deportation strategy, and Obama was ramping up in service of a comprehensive reform strategy,” Sharry said. Obama’s efforts to create political space for a path to citizenship by showing he could secure the border “didn’t work, by the way,” Sharry added. “But there were very different motivations.”
Kevin Appleby of the Center for Migration Studies dismissed the comparison to Obama as a way for Trump to make his extreme approach sound incremental. "He is trying to put lipstick on a pig he already let out of the pen,” Appleby said.
The White House wouldn’t weigh in on Trump’s position, but when asked about Obama’s immigration legacy, an official noted the president’s “record is about being smart and strategic about enforcement while doing everything we can to try to reform the overall system.”
During Obama’s first year in office, most of the 390,000 people he deported did not have a criminal history. But beginning in 2010, administration officials started refining their targets even as they deported more people. Deportations peaked in 2012, with 55 percent of the 410,000 deportees convicted of crimes other than immigration violations. In 2014, Obama further narrowed down the priorities to emphasize criminals and people who had recently arrived, and last year, deportations were the lowest of his term: around 235,000, with six in 10 having a criminal background and virtually all of the others falling under the recent arrival category.
It’s Obama’s refined approach that Trump has lately seized on.
"The first thing we're going to do if and when I win is we're going to get rid of all of the bad ones," Trump said Monday, adding, "As far as the rest, we're going to go through the process, like they are now, perhaps with a lot more energy, and we're going to do it only through the system of laws.”
Trump has long promised to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers. But unless he retracts some existing pledges, it’s not the case that Trump would merely enforce existing law. He’s pledged to revoke Obama’s deportation relief for 1.2 million so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought into the U.S. as children. And the immigration policy paper on his web site includes a plan to revoke birthright citizenship.
Monday wasn’t the first time Trump has cast himself as following in Obama’s footsteps.
"President Obama has mass deported vast numbers of people -- the most ever, and it's never reported,” he said in June. “I think people are going to find that I have not only the best policies, but I will have the biggest heart of anybody.”
But immigration reform proponents are newly agog at how far Trump has gone to invoke Obama’s legacy.
Obama gave immigration advocates “a lot of heartburn in the first term,” said Angela Maria Kelley, executive director at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, “and a lot of applause in the second term.”
Some still haven’t fully forgiven Obama for not getting immigration legislation done during his first two years — when Democrats held both the House and the Senate — or for his heavy-handed approach during that period. Since House Republicans refused to take up Senate-passed legislation in 2013, Obama has looked to executive branch actions.
His high-profile bid to let 5 million parents of American citizens and permanent residents come out of the shadows was blocked by the courts, but his administration has hosted lower key gatherings of local officials to make communities more welcoming to newcomers. It’s also behind a major push to encourage eligible immigrants to become citizens — and register to vote.
Obama still hasn’t won over some of the communities hit hardest by his deportation efforts, and they’ve only grown more incensed by the targeting of women and children who have recently arrived from gang-ridden Central American countries.
So by tying himself to Obama, Trump is just reminding some groups devoted to mobilizing pro-immigrant voters why they want to defeat him in November (not that they needed it).
“He’s going to be taking a bad, unjust, out of control system and make it worse,” said Cristina Jimenez, co-founder of United We Dream Action. “The question for the next president is are you going to continue on the legacy of Obama and either be the same or much worse… or are you going to be different than Obama and be better at dealing with immigrant communities?”
August 22, 2016
The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, reacting to the conflicting stories about Donald Trump and immigration after the candidate’s meeting with Hispanic supporters on Saturday.
Despite new reports from Trump that he is not, in fact, pivoting on immigration, it really doesn’t matter if he tries. He’s already defined himself with Latino voters and their allies. Since day one of his presidential campaign, Trump has made nativism the centerpiece of his campaign. He has insulted and dehumanized immigrants and Latinos in America and is now hurtling towards a historic low performance among Latino voters this November.
As a result, any possible tone change on immigration or Latinos would be less about making inroads with Latino voters and more about shoring up his appeal to wavering white voters who are rightfully turned off by a candidate running on a platform of explicit racism and bigotry. It’s both a transparent and cynical ploy and one that’s a sign of desperation from a flailing Trump campaign.
But just as Latino voters won’t buy any attempt to repackage Trump, neither should Republican and swing voters. Trump’s divisive fear-mongering has been the centerpiece of his campaign since June 2015 and a vote for Trump is a vote for racism.
By Rebecca Savransky
August 23, 2016
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Tuesday defended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's position on immigration, saying the first thing that needs to get done in the country is ending unlawful immigration.
"Well, he didn't soften his position on ending the illegality and creating a lawful system that protects the interests of our national security from terrorists and also doesn't flood the labor market with more workers than we've got jobs for," Sessions told reporters before a Trump rally in Texas, according to a transcript of the comments.
Before rally, Jeff Sessions had bit of an awkward Q+A w/ press, bit flummoxed by Trump "softening" comments:
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) 10:08 PM - 23 Aug 2016
But the Alabama senator did indicate Trump is having trouble with the issue of whether people who have been in the country illegally for a long time and haven't caused any trouble should be removed.
"Donald Trump is wrestling with that issue," Sessions told reporters.
"I fundamentally believe that the first and foremost priority is to fix the unlawful immigration. That's got to stop. And only once that's done, then you can begin to talk about what we should do in proper way for people who've been here a long time."
Trump on Tuesday indicated he may be open to some changes in immigration laws.
"There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people," Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.
Trump's openness to "softening" comes amid new questions about his position on the issue.
The GOP nominee has, in the past, called for some kind of deportation force to remove the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
But on Sunday, Trump's new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said it is "to be determined" if the candidate's immigration plans would include such a force.
If Donald Trump’s New Immigration Plan Sounds Familiar, That’s Because Obama Is Already Enforcing It
By Esther Lee
August 23, 2016
Donald Trump has built his presidential campaign around harsh rhetoric toward immigrants — referring to people who cross the border as “rapists,” pledging to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, and promising to round up millions of undocumented immigrants for deportation.
But Trump is now attempting to moderate his position, going back on some of his more hardline stances. During an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Monday night, the candidate struck a dramatically different tone, promising to implement a “humane” immigration policy that’s essentially exactly what the Obama administration is already doing.
Trump told O’Reilly that he would enforce “existing” federal immigration laws, promising to deport “gang members,” “killers,” and “a lot of bad people,” while allowing other people to “go through the process.”
“The first thing we’re gonna do, if and when I win, is we’re gonna get rid of all of the bad ones,” Trump told O’Reilly. “We’ve got gang members, we have killers, we have a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country.”
Trump even praised the president’s current deportation policies. “What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country, Bush the same thing,” he said. “Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m gonna do the same thing.”
Trump also told the Fox News host that he would not make use of detention centers, though it’s as yet unclear where undocumented immigrants would be held if he were to use a deportation task force to round them up.
“I never even heard the term. I’m not gonna put them in a detention center,” he added. “We want to do it in a very humane manner.”
Trump’s attempt to put immigrants into two categories —cracking down on people who have committed crimes, while being more lenient on those who have not — is a shift from his long-standing promise to deport the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants regardless of their records.
This policy mirrors what Obama is already doing. In November 2014, the Obama administration announced a tiered approach to target “felons, not families” through the Priority Enforcement Program, which purportedly focuses on the removal of convicted criminals rather than on deporting people who have long-standing roots in the country.
Though Trump’s recent statements are certainly an attempt to moderate his stance on the issue, immigration advocates wouldn’t agree that Obama — who earned the nickname “Deporter-in-Chief” for having authorized two million deportations between 2009 and 2014 — takes a truly “humane” approach to immigration policy.
Under the Obama administration, even immigrants who have turned their lives around since they committed years-old crimes have been caught up in the deportation dragnet. Take, for example, the Mennonite Pastor Max Villatoro — who was convicted of drunk driving two decades ago, and pleaded guilty in 1999 to record tampering, but later became an upstanding citizen in his Iowan community. He was deported to Honduras last year anyway.
And as recently as the beginning of the year, the administration began terrorizing Latino communities after it authorized a series of immigration raids targeting some Central American mothers and children who fled their home countries after January 2014. Hundreds of Central Americans were arrested in their homes, on their way to school, outside of church, and even pulled out of cars as their children watched from the backseat.
It’s unclear where Trump’s immigration policy will end up landing. At a rally in Akron, Ohio on Monday night, Trump assured the crowd that he would still build a wall across the southern U.S. border paid for by Mexico.
By Erica Werner
August 23, 2016
A key question looms for vulnerable Republican senators this election: If Donald Trump loses and loses big, can they still survive?
With 11 weeks until Election Day, Trump's declining standing in the polls has GOP Senate candidates preparing for the worst, and they're maneuvering now to put as big a margin as they can between themselves and the top of the ticket.
Some strategists foresee a historic Trump loss and the need to outrun the presidential nominee by at least five to 10 percentage points in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire and Florida, if Senate incumbents are to prevail in November. Such margins could be achieved, but it would not be easy, and most Republicans say there's a limit to how big Trump could lose without taking down nearly every vulnerable congressional incumbent.
Already, GOP senators in Illinois and Wisconsin are widely considered unlikely to survive in November. Few expect the solidly Republican House to change hands, but losses of as many as 15 or 20 seats are forecast.
Most GOP strategists now view a Trump loss to Democrat Hillary Clinton as a certainty, and their only question is how big.
"I'm more likely to think that it's going to be historic than that it's going to be close," said GOP strategist Rob Jesmer, formerly executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Democrats need to pick up four Senate seats to claim the majority if they hang onto the White House, since the vice president breaks tie votes. While Republicans are playing defense in more than a half-dozen heavily contested states, Democrats have only one seat at risk, in Nevada, where Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is retiring. Instead Democrats are expanding their list of pickup opportunities, adding Indiana by recruiting former Sen. Evan Bayh and working on North Carolina and Missouri.
Republicans take comfort in the fact that for now, incumbents including Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio of Florida are running well-ahead of Trump in their states. Polls show Trump losing all three states, even as Rubio and Portman are ahead of their rivals and Toomey is close to Democrat Katie McGinty.
"Strong Senate candidates can stand on their own even if they are fighting against the tide, and there are numerous examples of where that's happened," said Steven Law, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's former chief of staff who now works with Super PACs dedicated to helping Republicans.
In 2012, Barack Obama's re-election bid was a drag on Democrats in red states. Nonetheless, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp won in North Dakota even as Obama lost the state by 20 points and Democrat Jon Tester won in Montana even as Obama lost there by 14 points.
In 1996, GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole was headed for such a clear loss that Republicans began to run ads calling on voters to keep them in control of Congress to provide a check on Bill Clinton in the White House. It worked as Republicans won Senate seats that year even while losing the White House. In Arkansas, Clinton won his home state by 17 percentage points but a Republican won the Senate race.
This year, too, Republican senators and strategists are openly discussing split-ticket voting and messages aimed at convincing voters that a Hillary Clinton victory would only increase the imperative for a Republican Congress to act as a check on issues including Supreme Court nominations. Strategists anticipate that a clear pivot to that message could come after Labor Day.
Political committees are paying pollsters to ask voters whether they view their GOP senator as the same as Trump or different, as campaigns focus intently on separating their candidate from the nominee.
Republican senators have been working to focus on local issues and home-state achievements, even as Democrats try to link them to Trump and his controversial statements about women and minorities. With the exceptions of Toomey and Mark Kirk in Illinois, GOP senators up for re-election have mostly said they will support Trump even as they've kept him at arm's length, attempting to at once maintain the backing of his core supporters without alienating independent voters and others.
The top Senate races are awash in money, as donors including the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers have checked out of the presidential race and are focused on saving Senate Republicans instead.
Whether any of it will be enough to preserve Republicans' slim Senate majority remains to be seen.
In Pennsylvania, "I certainly think the senator's going to do well and I think he can outperform Donald Trump," said Mike Barley, a GOP strategist in the state, speaking of Toomey. But "if you're talking about a 10-point-plus (Trump) loss, the path to victory is extremely narrow, if it exists at all."
Toomey is seen as a strong incumbent running a good race, as are Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Portman and Rubio. In Nevada, Republicans are bullish about their nominee for Reid's open seat, Rep. Joe Heck. By contrast some of the Democratic candidates, including Ted Strickland in Ohio, seem to be underperforming expectations. Frustrated Republicans say that if none of that ends up mattering, they'll know who to blame.
Said GOP consultant Brian Walsh: "If Republicans lose the Senate the responsibility for that will lie solely with Donald Trump."
By Rafael Bernal
August 23, 2016
Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's new campaign CEO, previously accused Catholics of supporting Hispanic immigration to prop up the church's numbers on his radio program in the spring.
"I understand why Catholics want as many Hispanics in this country as possible, because the church is dying in this country, right? If it was not for the Hispanics," Bannon told Robert P. George, a Princeton law professor who, along with dozens of other leaders, wrote an open letter to fellow Catholics denouncing Trump.
"I get that, right? But I think that is the subtext of part of the letter, and I think that is the subtext of a lot of the political direction of this."
The Hill first reported on Bannon's March 8 comments Monday. Bannon railed against House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and said he was "rubbing his social-justice Catholicism in my nose every second."
About a month earlier, Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, had a controversial exchange with Pope Francis.
"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel," said Francis in February on his way back from a visit to Mexico.
Trump, who proposes building a border wall as part of his immigration plan, called the comment "disgraceful."
"No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith," Trump said.
According to Pew Research Center, the proportion of American Catholics who are Hispanic grew from 29 percent in 2007 to 34 percent in 2014. The proportion of white Catholics decreased from 65 percent to 59 percent.
By Colleen Slevin
August 23, 2016
A federal appeals court will decide whether Kansas has the right to ask people who register to vote when they get their driver’s licenses for proof that they’re citizens, a decision which could affect whether thousands have their ballots counted in November’s election.
Three judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Tuesday from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the American Civil Liberties Union but didn’t indicate how soon they could rule.
Kansas wants the court to overturn a ruling by a federal judge in May that temporarily blocked the state from disenfranchising people who registered at motor vehicle offices but didn’t provide documents such as birth certificates or naturalization papers. That was about 18,000 people at the time. If the order is allowed to stand, the state says up to an estimated 50,000 people who haven’t proven they’re citizens could have their votes counted in the fall.
Since 1993, states have had to allow people to register to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s licenses. The so-called motor-voter law says that people can only be asked for “minimal information” when registering to vote, allowing them to simply affirm they are citizens.
The ACLU claims the law intended to increase registration doesn’t allow states to ask applicants for extra documents. It also says that motor vehicle clerks don’t tell people renewing existing licenses that they need to provide the documents, leaving them under the mistaken impression that their registration is complete when they leave the office.
Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s voting rights project, told the judges that Kansas can prosecute any non-citizens who register to vote and can also better train its motor vehicle clerks so they don’t offer the option of registering to vote to people who aren’t citizens. Ho also said that Congress considered but rejected an amendment that would have allowed states to ask for proof of citizenship.
Kobach, who is a national leader in Republican voter requirement efforts, told the judges the law doesn’t expressly bar states from asking for proof of citizenship.
Kansas’ law requires all voters to prove their citizenship, whether they are applying at a motor vehicle office or elsewhere in the state. After the hearing, he said it doesn’t make sense to hold voters to a higher standard just because they didn’t register at a motor vehicle office.
“It’s an absurd result. Why would Congress want us to do that,” he said.
Kobach has championed the documentation requirement as a way to prevent non-citizens from voting, particularly immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Critics contend the requirement suppresses turnout because people who are citizens may not be able to immediately provide documentation.
In the May ruling, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson said evidence showed only three instances in Kansas where noncitizens voted in a federal election between 1995 and 2013, and about 14 noncitizens attempted to register during that time. Robinson said the number of people disenfranchised outweighed the harm of those cases.
Alabama, Arizona and Georgia have similar registration requirements on the books, but Alabama and Georgia are not currently enforcing them. Arizona does not require additional citizenship papers from people registering at motor vehicle offices beyond what’s already required to get a driver’s license.
By Mark Hensch
August 24, 2016
Voter support for decreasing immigration into the U.S. is little changed since last year, according to a new poll.
Thirty-eight percent favor shrinking the number of the nation’s new immigrants in the Gallup survey out Wednesday.
Wednesday’s results are only four points higher than last year’s edition of the same poll, when 34 percent gave that response.
Pollsters also found scant difference in voter support for increasing or maintaining the current U.S. immigration levels since 2015.
Twenty-one percent support increasing immigration into the U.S., a four-point decrease from 25 percent last year.
Thirty-eight percent back keeping immigration levels steady, meanwhile, a two-point decrease from 2015.
Gallup conducted its latest sampling of 3,270 adults via telephone interviews from June 7-July 1. It has a 3 percent margin of error.
The polling firm said Wednesday its questioning about immigrant volume did not specify whether it concerns legal or illegal immigration. Respondents, in theory, could take both versions into account.
GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has made strengthening border security and dealing with illegal immigration key parts of his message.
Trump on Tuesday, however, voiced openness to easing immigration law if the circumstances were right for America.
“There certainly can be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people,” he told host Sean Hannity during an interview on Fox News’s “Hannity."
New York Magazine (Opinion)
By Eric Levitz
August 22, 2016
Donald Trump did not win the Republican primary on the strength of his policy proposals. The GOP nominee won much of his party’s Evangelical base despite betraying a profound ignorance of their views on abortion; he earned plenty of votes from conservatives who backed the Iraq War, despite deriding it as a total disaster; and he won the backing of countless opponents of Obama’s stimulus package, despite running on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
But if there was one policy proposal that was genuinely important to Trump supporters, it was the candidate’s hard-line approach to deterring illegal immigration. Thus, when Buzzfeed reported that Trump was mulling a new, “humane” approach to dealing with the undocumented, hackles were raised. And now, two days after that report emerged, Trump has canceled the much-hyped speech on immigration policy he’d been slated to deliver this Thursday.
Over the weekend, Trump met with his newly unveiled Hispanic advisory council. According to Buzzfeed, Trump told the group that he wanted to find “a humane and efficient manner” of accommodating those who are in the country illegally. Univision suggested Trump went even further, in its dispatch from the meeting, writing that Trump “plans to present an immigration plan in Colorado Thursday that will include finding a way to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants.”
This was not welcome news to the Trumpen proletariat, and Breitbart (a.k.a. Trump Magazine the Second) was quick to attack the messengers. On Monday, Trump told Fox News that he was not “flip-flopping” on immigration, but rather, was seeking a “a really fair, but firm” way of addressing the issue of the undocumented.
On Monday afternoon, the Trump campaign abruptly canceled the speech it had planned for Thursday, without providing an immediate reason. However, according to the Denver Post, the campaign informed supporters via email that speech he “was planning on giving is still being modified.”
The Washington Post notes that Trump could abandon his past calls for mass deportation without, technically, flip-flopping on policy. The paper writes that, while Trump repeatedly called for expelling the entire undocumented population in interviews and on the campaign trail, the written immigration plan that Trump released last August did not actually contain any mention of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants.
By Josh Voorhees
August 22, 2016
Donald Trump on Monday denied a weekend’s worth of speculation that he is considering softening his hard-line support for the mass deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. “No, I'm not flip-flopping,” he told Fox News. In his next breath, however, the GOP nominee made clear that his current plan remains a work in progress. “We want to come up with a really fair but firm answer,” he said. “That's—it has to be very firm. But we want to come up with something fair.”
Trump’s comments came after BuzzFeed, Univision, and the Washington Post all reported that, during a Saturday meeting with his newly announced Hispanic advisory council, Trump appeared open to allowing some undocumented immigrants to remain in the country legally. Trump’s own team then fanned those flip-flopping flames on Sunday, most notably when his brand new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told CNN that it was “to be determined” whether Trump still supports using a “deportation force” as part of immigration plan.
On one hand, the frenzy over Trump’s potential reversal is understandable. Trump has made his deportations-and-wall-building immigration plan a centerpiece of his campaign, and the mere suggestion that it might not be set in stone is stunning. Trump is allergic to policy specifics, but on the topic of mass deportations he’s been remarkably clear for the past 12 months:
- “All criminal aliens must be returned to their home countries,” declared his original policy statement on immigration, which was released last August (and remains live on his website Monday).
- “They have to go,” Trump said on Meet the Press that same weekend when asked whether he would deport any immigrant in the country illegally.
- “We’re rounding ‘em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way,” he said the following month on 60 Minutes.
- “You're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely,” Trump said on Morning Joe in November.
- “We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally," Trump said during a Republican debate in February. “They will go out. They will come back—some will come back, the best, through a process. They have to come back legally."
So if he were to actually to be shifting his position away from rounding up 11 million people and forcibly removing them from the country, this would be a big deal. But on the other hand, this also appears to be just more of the same vagueness and lack of specificity from Trump. As my colleague Isaac Chotiner put it last week after Trump’s foreign policy speech, the celebrity businessman doesn’t have policy ideas as much as he has moods. “Trump’s policies may loosely cohere into some sort of familiar ideology,” Chotiner wrote, “but his campaign and his ideas all basically exist within his head.” Fortunately for Trump, though, those vague policy notions also exist somewhere else, too: inside the heads of his supporters, who are willing to hear two contradictory statements from their candidate of choice and then simply choose the one they like best and discard the other.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Trump has attempted to use that dynamic to his advantage, either. Consider how he tried to cloud the conversation around his Muslim ban to ease the concerns of those Republicans who thought his original proposal went too far—such as his eventual vice presidential nominee Mike Pence—without fundamentally changing it. What originally was a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” is now a ban on people from “areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States,” a category that Trump refuses to define, allowing his supporters to draw their own conclusions from his Islamophobic remarks.
Trump knows what he’s doing. As he put it last summer when fielding a question about the lack of policy specifics in his immigration plan: “I don’t think the people care. I think they trust me. I think they know I’m going to make good deals for them.” Even while being frustratingly inconsistent on the specifics, then, Trump has actually been remarkably consistent when it comes to his overarching promises: He isn’t actually making any.
Friday, August 19, 2016
New York Times
By Jonathan Martin
August 18, 2016
Donald J. Trump’s struggling candidacy has now become a direct threat to Republican control of Congress, significantly increasing the likelihood that Democrats will take control of the Senate and cut substantially into the House Republican majority next year.
Mr. Trump’s string of inflammatory statements in the weeks since his nominating convention last month has sent him tumbling in nearly every state with a contested Senate race, raising Republican fears that their own demoralized voters will not show up to vote, independents will abandon the entire Republican ticket and energized Democrats will flock to the polls.
While Republicans anticipate that their down-ballot candidates will be able to outpace Mr. Trump’s share of the vote, national and local party officials and strategists are increasingly concerned that he is in danger of being so soundly defeated that even their best-prepared candidates will not be able to withstand the backlash to the top of the ticket.
“People are getting pretty nervous about our candidates because he’s in a death spiral here and nobody knows where the bottom is at,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is close to many of his colleagues facing re-election.
Mr. Trump’s move this week to overhaul his campaign by hiring the head of a conservative website known for its incendiary writings on race and ethnic identity only heightened Republican concerns about Mr. Trump’s impact on moderate voters. If he devotes the rest of his campaign to a platform of hard-edge nationalism, strategists said, it could further turn off the suburban centrists Senate Republicans need in their column.
While there is still time for the dynamics of the campaign to shift, what worries Republicans most acutely is Mr. Trump’s eroding position in three states that alone could determine control of the Senate: Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and North Carolina. Hillary Clinton has staked out a clear advantage in each state in public polling, and private surveys by pro-Republican groups mirror the trend, according to multiple officials tracking the campaigns.
If Mr. Trump cannot close the gap and at least limit his eventual deficit to five percentage points or less in those states, Republican strategists say, Senators Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina will find their seats in jeopardy.
“The question is, how far ahead of Trump can they run?” said Karl Rove, the founder of American Crossroads, a “super PAC” involved in this year’s Senate campaigns.
Many leading Republicans have already concluded that Mr. Trump is sure to lose, and that the party should turn its attention entirely to buttressing its most endangered senators and limiting Democratic gains in the House. But there is a divide over how soon the Republican National Committee should begin shifting money away from the presidential race and to the fight to retain Congress.
“We’re rapidly approaching the time where the R.N.C. will have to think long and hard about investing its resources in Senate seats rather than continuing to help a presidential campaign that’s going nowhere,” said Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist deeply involved in Senate races.
But at a private meeting of the Republican Governors Association this week in Aspen, Colo., Haley Barbour, an influential former Mississippi governor and Republican chairman, urged the governors to rally behind Mr. Trump to improve the party’s prospects and said the party should continue to back him, at least until October, according to a Republican who was there.
Democrats would need to pick up four seats to gain control of the Senate if Mrs. Clinton wins the presidency, and her vice president becomes the chamber’s tiebreaker vote. Officials in both parties believe that the two Republican seats most likely to change hands are in Wisconsin and Illinois. And with the well-known former Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana returning home to try to reclaim his Republican-held seat, Democrats enjoy an initial advantage there, too.
So with only one Democratic-controlled seat being aggressively contested — that of the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who is retiring — it is critical for Republicans to bolster their defenses in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and North Carolina, or they are sure to lose the Senate.
Few professionals in either party believe the Republicans’ 30-seat majority in the House is yet at risk, largely because so many districts are drawn to make them uncompetitive in general elections. But strategists increasingly believe that Democrats could pick up more than a dozen seats, with their prospects brightest in the urban and suburban areas where Mr. Trump is losing by double digits.
“We have to be concerned,” said Representative Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican. “I don’t think you can assume anybody is safe if the top of ticket is struggling as bad as this one is.”
House Democrats have begun trying to make life more difficult for Republicans in districts near large cities, airing cable ads laying the foundation for a fall campaign accusing Republican incumbents of putting loyalty to the party, and to Mr. Trump, ahead of the country’s best interests.
Some outside groups have started doing the same to vulnerable Senate Republicans. “If she’s so independent, why is she still supporting Trump?” asks Independence USA, a super PAC underwritten by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, in a television ad attacking Ms. Ayotte set to begin running Friday in New Hampshire.
Republican Senate seats that were considered to be tossups before Donald J. Trump became the Republican nominee may be even more vulnerable now.
But Republicans like Ms. Ayotte, who says she is voting for Mr. Trump but not endorsing him, could have a difficult time winning if Mr. Trump’s admirers spurn her.
“If she loses any of them, that could be an issue,” said Jeb Bradley, a Republican state senator in New Hampshire and a former member of Congress who lost a bid to reclaim his seat in 2008 thanks in part to the Democratic wave that year.
Mr. Burr, who has endorsed Mr. Trump, and Mr. Toomey, who has not, face a similar dilemma. They must determine how to retain Mr. Trump’s ardent supporters without embracing him, handing Democrats easy fodder and repelling independents.
The situation is far more manageable in those states where Mr. Trump is more competitive. In Ohio, for example, Senator Rob Portman is seen as running a solid campaign. But Mr. Portman also retained his lead in part because even during this recent stretch, Mr. Trump has fallen behind Mrs. Clinton only by around four points in public polling.
Some Republicans believe that, in Democratic-leaning or evenly matched states, Republican candidates are better off abandoning Mr. Trump because the party’s most reliable voters are still likely to go to the polls and support every Republican on the ballot.
“I think offending half of Republican primary voters is less risky than angering every swing voter in a state where the Republican base is not enough to win,” said Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist.
But other Republican leaders say the party is handcuffed to Mr. Trump for the time being. If the party collectively disavowed his candidacy now, they say, it would cause his poll numbers to sink even further while infuriating his supporters. And the internecine intraparty battle likely to ensue could depress Republican turnout, dragging other candidates down with him.
So for the sake of the rest of the ticket, these party leaders feel they have little choice but to try to prop up Mr. Trump the best they can.
“It’s going to be like ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ — you got to make him look alive, even if he’s not,” said Mr. Graham, who is not supporting Mr. Trump.
What is gnawing at Republicans is the possibility that Mr. Trump has so turned off typically Republican-leaning college-educated and white female voters that they will never give him a chance — and that, as a result, he cannot come close to Mrs. Clinton in swing states. Such a situation would free Democrats, the presidency in hand, to use the final weeks of the campaign to direct their resources toward winning as many congressional seats as possible.
“If national Democratic money pours into the state, and I think it will, that could change the equation,” said Phil English, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is the state that has most alarmed Republicans since the conventions. Mr. Trump’s standing has collapsed in the vote-rich Philadelphia area, helping Mr. Toomey’s challenger, Katie McGinty, establish a narrow edge in public polls.
“I am worried about the southeast,” Rob Gleason, the Pennsylvania Republican chairman, said of the Philadelphia area, though he said that west of the Susquehanna River, Mr. Trump would pile up “record-level” margins for a Republican.
Mr. Burr, in North Carolina, is facing a similar challenge. While Mr. Trump is expected to run strongly in rural areas, he is so toxic around Raleigh and Charlotte that party strategists working on state legislative races describe, with a mix of horror and wonder, Republican-leaning suburban seats where their standard-bearer is trailing by well over 10 points.
The problem is serious enough that party officials there, where Gov. Pat McCrory is also facing a difficult re-election, have already begun discussing ways to appeal to Republican voters who are uneasy about Mr. Trump but willing to support other Republican candidates.
The good news, they say, is that there is no longer a party lever in the state, making ticket-splitting easier. But it is the presidential nominees who have typically driven party turnout — not candidates in congressional or statewide races.
“Republicans are going to have to improve their turnout at the grass-roots level in a way we haven’t had to do in years past, if we want to win the Senate race,” said Dee Stewart, a Republican strategist in North Carolina.
Mr. Burr appears to be alert to the need to insulate himself and better establish his own identity in the state: He is to begin airing TV ads next week.