Here’s Trump’s troubling answer at last night’s debate.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, your campaign website to this day argues that more visas for highly skilled workers would, quote, “decimate American workers”. However, at the CNBC debate, you spoke enthusiastically in favor of these visas. So, which is it?
TRUMP: I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in. But, and we do need in Silicon Valley, we absolutely have to have.
So, we do need highly skilled, and one of the biggest problems we have is people go to the best colleges. They’ll go to Harvard, they’ll go to Stanford, they’ll go to Wharton, as soon as they’re finished they’ll get shoved out. They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately, they’re not able to stay here. For that purpose, we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power in this country.
KELLY: So you abandoning the position on your website…
TRUMP: … I’m changing it, and I’m softening the position because we have to have talented people in this country.
And here’s the near-instantaneous clarification put out by his campaign.
I suppose he’s made sense of it now — he was only talking about workers higher skilled than H-1Bs. Megyn Kelly never says “H-1B.” It’s true that the closer you get to Einstein-level skills, the more plausible the benefits of immigration.
Still, if that’s all Trump was saying, it’s not inconsistent with his website. So why did he say “I’m changing,” and that he’s “softened” his positions?
He gives the impression that someone’s lobbied him, and that somebody isn’t Jeff Sessions.
At some point in this sort of controversy it’s not enough to clarify the point on his web site or in a press release. Trump’s got a great immigration adviser, Stephen Miller — but you want to hear it from the candidate himself, as a demonstration that he actually believes it and understands it.
For those who believe in immigration control, we’re in the middle of a sort of a harmonic convergence of paranoia about Trump. There’s
— Last night’s “softening.”
— Last night’s defense of bringing in less-skilled foreign guest workers for “seasonal’ jobs.
— The alleged secret off-the-record NYT tape, which editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal helpfully distributed to the paper’s reporters, in which Trump supposedly makes undetermined admissions of flexibility on immigration.
— Trump’s statement on Hannity that “everything’s negotiable” (except building the Wall).
— The emergence of Newt Gingrich, a proponent of the bogus Krieble touchback plan, as a possible player in Trump’s administration.
— Trumps stunning statement, at the debate, that his differences with Rubio on the issue were a matter of “degree” — and his seeming to approve Rubio’s “Gang of 8” amnesty efforts as “a little give and take and a little negotiation.”
–The general infrequency with which Trump makes the wage-boosting argument against mass immigration (as opposed to, say, the drug-interdiction argument for the Wall).
Is Trump really pivoting this early into a bland general election mode? Does he think that would help even in a general election? Who is he listening to? Is he appealing to donors now that he has to raise some money? Does he take his supporters (on immigration) for granted? Does he realize that weakening his positions now deprives him of the mandate he needs, come negotiatin’ time? Are we supposed to trust him implicitly just because, early in the campaign, he flouted PC and said some Mexican illegal immigrants were “rapists”? If he sells out on this issue, what other …
Whoa, steady, Mickey! Don’t get carried away. Maybe this really is just paranoia, feeding on itself. Unskilled immigration is more damaging than skilled immigration, because it lowers the wages of American workers at the very bottom. And even if Trump is soft on skilled guestworkers, as he seems to be, I still think he’s likely to give us border security (the Wall, E-Verify, etc.) — more likely than the slippery Cruz, who is in turn better than everyone else left in the race.
And security is the first order of business. Unless we control who comes in, debates about levels of immigration are pointless, because illegals will come in anyway. If Trump can achieve that control — and how does he not build the Wall? — then we can debate about the numbers of visas.