Donald Trump likes to pretend that he's the only reason that anyone is talking about illegal immigration this election cycle, and that he's the toughest candidate out there on the issue. That's why we hear promises about walls that Mexico will pay for, mass deportations, and rescinding birthright citizenship. Most of Trump's supporters couldn't care less about abrupt about-face he's pulled on many immigration-related issues -- or anything else, for that matter. As a refresher, Trump has hired many illegal immigrants over the years, was a DREAM Act supporter until recently, and criticized Mitt Romney's immigration rhetoric as too harsh in 2012. But as Trump regales throngs of cheering supporters with tales of hardline immigration policies, is he privately painting a very different picture for the New York Times' liberal editorial board? Buzzfeed has the intriguing scoop:
The New York Times is sitting on an audio recording that some of its staff believes could deal a serious blow to Donald Trump who, in an off-the-record meeting with the newspaper, called into question whether he would stand by his own immigration views. Trump visited the paper’s Manhattan headquarters on Tuesday, Jan. 5, part of a round of editorial board meetings that — as is traditional — the Democratic candidates for president and some of the Republicans attended. The meetings, conducted partly on the record and partly off the record in a 13th floor conference room, give candidates a chance to make their pitch for the paper’s endorsement...Sources familiar with the recording and transcript — which have reached near-mythical status at the Times — tell me that [the rumor] reflects, instead, something Trump said about the flexibility of his hard-line anti-immigration stance. So what exactly did Trump say about immigration, about deportations, about the wall? Did he abandon a core promise of his campaign in a private conversation with liberal power brokers in New York? I wasn’t able to obtain the recording, or the transcript, and don’t know exactly what Trump said. Neither Baquet, Collins, nor various editorial board members I reached would comment on an off-the-record conversation, which the Times essentially said they cannot release without approval from Trump, given the nature of the the off-the-record agreement.
One Times columnist who was present for the meeting, Gail Collins, wrote this of Trump's campaign rhetoric:
The most optimistic analysis of Trump as a presidential candidate is that he just doesn’t believe in positions, except the ones you adopt for strategic purposes when you’re making a deal. So you obviously can’t explain how you’re going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, because it’s going to be the first bid in some future monster negotiation session.
Is Trump's real intent to negotiate a comprehensive immigration reform deal in the unlikely event that he's elected? Collins says she cannot divulge what Trump said in the private meeting that inspired the bolded sentence above. The ball is in the Trump campaign's court. They haven't commented so far. Knee-jerk Trump defenders will surely shout, "the Times is lying!" and be done with it. But they've tried that once before during a dust-up pertaining to proposed tariffs. When Trump called them liars, the paper produced audio that proved Trump, in fact, was lying. Audio of this off-the-record immigration chat apparently exists, too. If Trump is really the teller of blunt truths he claims to be -- as opposed to a cynical phony and con artist -- he should green light the release of this tape. Just as he should release his still-secret tax returns, as promised. His excuses on the latter front make no sense, by the way. He's got nothing to hide, right? Oh, and isn't this rather curious language coming from an allegedly staunch opponent of illegal immigration and supposed champion of American workers?
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 29, 2016
He's simply importing foreign labor to fill jobs that qualified Americans simply don't want, he says. Not true, say hundreds of qualified American workers who have been turned away by Trump:
Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., describes itself as “one of the most highly regarded private clubs in the world,” and it is not just the very-well-to-do who want to get in. Since 2010, nearly 300 United States residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers there. But according to federal records, only 17 have been hired. In all but a handful of cases, Mar-a-Lago sought to fill the jobs with hundreds of foreign guest workers from Romania and other countries. In his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. Trump has stoked his crowds by promising to bring back jobs that have been snatched by illegal immigrants or outsourced by corporations, and voters worried about immigration have been his strongest backers. But he has also pursued more than 500 visas for foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago since 2010, according to the United States Department of Labor, while hundreds of domestic applicants failed to get the same jobs.
It's almost as if this guy is making things up as he goes along, telling people what he thinks they want to hear. Sort of like a scammer. I'll leave you with this challenge from Rubio:
Trump, by the way, is hitting back at Rubio by quoting...Puerto Rico's left-wing Democratic governor who's hiked taxes and bankrupted his government:
Governor Alejandro García Padilla said presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio “is no friend of Puerto Rico." https://t.co/I6mhYnAcZ3— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 29, 2016
What's next? Cutting ads with Hillary attacking Rubio or Cruz's conservative positions? It's almost as if Trump isn't really what he's pretending to be...