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Donald Trump sets harsh tone on immigration: mass deportations, biometrics, 'no amnesty'

The Republican nominee offers no path to legal status for illegal immigrants — unless they leave the country

by Alex Thompson
Sep 1 2016, 3:53am

Trump parla alla folla del Phoenix Convention Center, lo scorso 31 agosto. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There will be no softening. That was the message from Donald Trump Wednesday evening in an angry, impassioned speech detailing his plan on immigration.

Despite suggestions from Trump and his campaign team over the last two weeks that there could be a "softening" to his approach towards undocumented immigrants, particularly otherwise law-abiding families living in this country, the Republican nominee made clear "to the world," as he said, that he was as hard as ever.

"You cannot smuggle in, hunker down, and wait to be legalized," Trump said over his 74 minute speech at full volume. "Those days are over." A pivot, this was not.

Trump laid out a ten-step plan that greatly resembled the plan that he laid out—to great controversy—at the outset of his candidacy over a year ago. Solving this issue, he yelled, was a "matter of life and death" and told that crowd that "together, we can save America itself."

The first pillar of the plan will be to "build a great wall along the southern border," he said to enthusiastic chants from the crowd of "build that wall."

"On day one, we will begin working on intangible, physical, tall, power, beautiful southern border wall," he said. "We will use the best technology, including above and below ground sensors. That's for the tunnels." He added that Mexico will pay for it "one hundred percent."

Just hours before, Trump had unexpectedly travelled to Mexico City for a closed door meeting with Mexican President Peña Nieto after which Trump said that who would pay for the wall was not discussed. While President Nieto later disputed this, Trump said "they don't know it yet but they are going to pay for it."

Next, Trump laid out familiarly harsh proposals for illegal immigration: mass deportations, biometric technology to track migrants, and values testing, proposing "an ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values and love our people."

Before trotting out a group of "angel moms" on stage—parents of children killed by illegal immigrants—Trump promised there would be zero tolerance for any illegal immigrant convicted of a crime. "My first hour in office," he said, "those people are gone."

He even suggested that his immigration officers could deport Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Her campaign did not seem worried. Her spokesman, Brian Fallon, tweeted out during the speech that the "campaign has a goal to register 3 million new voters. This speech by Donald Trump tonight can only help."

The speech was a balm to some of Trump's closest allies that worried his recent statements meant millions of undocumented immigrant would be able gain legal status. Trump assuaged them saying legal status will be given through "one route, and one route only. To return home and to apply for reentry like everyone else." One such ally worried about Mr. Trump's potential softening, author Ann Coulter, tweeted that "I hear Churchill had a nice turn of phrase, but Trump's immigration speech is the most magnificent speech ever given."

Trump promised at the beginning of his speech: "You will get the truth." On immigration, it seems Trump has been telling the truth from the beginning. At least his version of it.

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