Though Donald Trump billed his Phoenix, Arizona, address Wednesday night as a major immigration policy speech, he offered few new proposals and showed little signs of "softening" in his ideas. Instead, he reiterated his plans to step up deportations of undocumented immigrants, crack down on "criminal aliens" and limit immigration from the Middle East.
Last week, Trump suggested he'd be open to "softening" laws to allow some undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. But during his remarks, he reiterated many of his hardline proposals to restrict immigration and boost deportations.
Undocumented immigrants seeking legal status will have "one route and one route only: to return home and apply for reentry like everyone else," he said. "We will break the cycle of amnesty and illegal immigration. There will be no amnesty ... You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country."
Trump gave a point-by-point description of his plan, which includes:
- Building a "beautiful" wall on the southern border: As he's said before on numerous occasions, Trump insisted that Mexico would pay "100%" of the cost of an "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful" wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. A few hours earlier, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto wrote on Twitter -- just hours after his meeting with Trump -- that he'd made it clear in the meeting that Mexico would not pay for the wall.
- Ending "catch and release" and focusing on detaining and deporting recent border crossers: “Under my administration, anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are returned,” Trump said. He promised to increase the number of police and immigration officers.
- Implementing a zero-tolerance approach toward criminal aliens: Trump said there are "at least 2 million criminal aliens now inside the country." To deal with this population, he said he would issue detainers for undocumented immigrants who are arrested, hire 5,000 new Border Patrol Agents, triple the number of immigration agents, create a new deportation task force and restore the Secure Communities and the 287G programs. "We will begin moving them out day one, in joint operations with local, state and federal law enforcement," he said.
- Blocking funding for so-called sanctuary cities that protect undocumented immigrants: "Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars," he said.
- Ending executive action programs DACA and DAPA: Trump criticized Obama's two "illegal executive amnesties" and said no one would be immune or exempt from enforcement under his administration. "That is what it means to have laws and to have a country," he said.
- Suspending visas from places where "adequate screening cannot occur" and instituting stricter vetting process: Trump says he will develop a "list of regions and countries from which immigration must be suspended until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place." That would include places like Syria and Libya. As part of a vetting process, "applicants will be asked for their views about honor killings, about respect for women and gays and minorities, attitudes on radical Islam, and many other topics as part of the vetting procedure."
- Ensuring countries take back deportees: According to Trump, there are at least 23 countries that refuse to take their people back after they have been ordered to leave the United States. Among them are a large number of criminals, he said.
- Creating an entry/exit visa tracking system and cracking down on people who overstay their visas: Trump said that last year, nearly a half a million individuals overstayed their temporary visas.
- No more social welfare programs: Trump said the country would begin using and expanding the E-verify program, "to protect all aspects of American life – the worksite, the welfare office, the education system and much else."
- Reforming the immigration system to benefit American workers by implementing immigration caps and choosing immigrants based on "merit, skill and proficiency": "We wouldn’t put our entire federal budget on autopilot for decades," Trump said, "so why should we do the same for immigration?"