Mexico a sham: Trump reverts to form in immigration speech

Maya Angelou once said "when someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time."

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If we had all taken those words to heart, no one would have been surprised at Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPossible GOP challenger says Trump doesn't doesn't deserve reelection, but would vote for him over Democrat O'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms MORE's recent, highly anticipated immigration speech that he gave this week in Arizona, where he doubled down on his most draconian plans to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

The speech was the most nativist, restrictionist, nationalistic and offensive speech he has given to date.

It came on the heels of his hastily arranged trip to Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Both events were an epic fail for Donald Trump and brought him several steps closer to losing the election.

Trump had seen the polls. He is trailing nationally by 5 to 10 points and in most key battleground states. His team was panicking and they needed to shake things up.

The trip to Mexico was, as I have called it, an "Ave Maria" pass of desperation to see if he could change the narrative to his advantage and start making some inroads into the key demographic groups that Trump desperately needs to win.

Maybe you think that means Latinos. Normally that would be the case since a Republican president cannot get to la Casa Blanca without at least 44% of the Hispanic vote. Trump is between 11 and 20% depending on the poll.

But Trump has clearly made a calculation that he can get to the White House without the Latino vote. So his focus is to try to soften his image with college educated white voters, especially women, who Republicans have always won, but who Trump is losing by 20 points to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Progressive Democrats' turnout plans simply don't add up MORE.

He also needs to improve his standing among Catholic voters, who normally split more or less evenly between Republicans and Democrats — Obama won them by two points and 2012 — but who Trump is losing by 28 points to Mrs. Clinton.

So why a trip to Mexico? Trump had to prove that he can be seen as presidential. That his image on the world stage is not laughable or grotesque and that these voting blocks can see him side-by-side with a world leader and hold his own.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton is already seen this way. She had nothing to prove. He? Everything.

Perhaps Trump could have pulled it off — if his caricature persona we're not so ingrained in our minds. His subdued nature at the press conference after the meeting with President Peña Nieto, reading softly and haltingly from prepared remarks, nary a challenge to Mexico, whose citizens Trump insulted by calling them rapists, criminals and drug dealers, and who Trump has called corrupt, and an enemy of the U.S.

The Trump at the press conference was unrecognizable. His words were someone else's. His conciliatory tone, would have been seen as moderated had it come from someone else.

From Trump though, they sounded conjured, fake, forced, and inauthentic. All the things he railed against for the past 15 months. He didn't even bring up making Mexico pay for the wall — weak! Especially after Peña Nieto tweeted out that he was unequivocal in telling Trump Mexico would not pay for the wall.

This was followed by an interview with Mexican press where Peña Nieto stated that Trump's policies would be a threat to Mexico.

So much for being seen as competent on the world stage and able to work with one of our most important trading partners and critical allies. The Clinton campaign was right. He choked. Big league.

Then he comes back to make a highly anticipated speech after days of what was seen as major flip-flopping as he seemed to soften his approach to his hardline immigration stance. But this trial balloon was also a bid to appeal to those suburban white women who are uncomfortable with Trump because they see him as racist and bigoted.  Alas, that moderate mirage sure did not last long.

In his Arizona speech, Trump promised mass deportation on a level we have not seen. Ever. He promised a Deportation Task Force that would first focus on deporting criminal undocumented immigrants (we already do that), followed by those who overstay their visas. Then he would get to those who have been here without serious criminal records.

He also mentioned getting rid of the protections for our Dreamers, the kids who were brought here as babies and children who know no other home. They must go as well. So do the children of undocumented immigrants. Let's not forget Trump wants to get rid of birthright citizenship after all.

Those who want any path to legalization must definitely depart. No one is spared.

The language, the tone and the imagery were dark, dystopian, and devoid of any reality that exists in our country.

The fact is that undocumented immigrants commit an infinitesimally small number of violent crimes compared to the native born population. But in Trump's world they are running around rampant rabidly killing women and children at every turn.

Undocumented immigrants contribute $12 billion to our economy every year through taxes and billions more through the jobs they do, many of which are jobs Americans do not want. In Trump's world, these immigrants are the number one drain on our economy and jobs.

Trump's speech was unserious, intellectually lazy, fact-free, hyperbolic, full of fear mongering and immigrant scapegoating. It was so offensive that the day after he gave it, many members of his Latino Council withdrew their support of him.

Donald Trump's trip to Mexico and his subsequent immigration speech did nothing to expand his appeal to other voters. On the contrary. It proved yet again why he is temperamentally unfit, completely unqualified, and wholly unprepared to be our Commander-in-Chief.

But he has shown us exactly that from the moment he announced his presidency. So, as Ms. Angelou so eloquently stated, why should we have expected anything more?

Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.


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