It is evident that something is happening with the Trump campaign on the issue of immigration. But we, like everyone else, have no idea what that is. Recently, Trump has talked about whether allowances should be made for longtime undocumented residents. By the same token, he did so in a stomach-turning spectacle where he cavalierly put the fate of 11 million people and their families to a “should they stay or should they go” show of hands at a televised town hall.
It is also alarming that, 70 days from election day, Trump does not seem to have settled on his immigration policy proposals other than his infamous wall. We do not know what Trump’s proposal will look like or whether his remarks truly indicate some sort of shift in tone or policy. But we do know everything Trump has already said about immigration and our community throughout his campaign.
The Trump campaign kicked off with describing Mexican immigrants as “criminals, rapists, and drug dealers,” and Trump has neither apologized nor backed off from that baseless characterization. He launched a reprehensible attack on the American-born judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuit, asserting that Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not do his job because he is of Mexican heritage. And he has promoted the most extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric of leaders such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his campaign, at his rallies, and most notably during the Republican National Convention.
We also know the policies the Trump campaign supports:
· A mass deportation force.
· High praise for the infamous and disastrous Operation Wetback, which deported hundreds of thousands of people, including native-born citizens, in the 1950s.
· A platform plank in favor of state laws like SB 1070, which legitimize and expand racial profiling and violate the civil rights of Hispanic citizens and noncitizens alike.
· A religious litmus test for immigrants entering the United States.
And we know what the Trump campaign does not support. The DACA program — which allows hundreds of thousands of young people to work and go to school in the only country they know — would be repealed. He also opposes the DREAM Act, which would make DACA permanent, and would crush President Obama’s DAPA program to help the parents of U.S.-born children.
Trump’s belief that a half-hearted attempt to soften what has thus far been a draconian litany on immigration will help him with Latino voters just adds to the notion that he does not realize the depth of the hole he has dug himself into. He cannot suddenly or blithely unring the bell of bigotry that he and his campaign have relied on.
The good news is that Trump’s trial balloon may be a long-overdue acknowledgement that bigotry is out of step with communities of color, as well as with the vast majority of Americans. Whether that acknowledgement is far too little and far too late is a question that voters, including millions of Latinos, will answer.
Janet Murguía is President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza.
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.