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Trump's speech proves he doesn't understand immigration

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

Finally, what would a Trump speech be without a gratuitous reference to MS-13? The Salvadoran street gang is the Trump era's version of Willie Horton, the African-American rapist and murderer who entered the political lexicon in the 1988 presidential race when Republicans used Horton to bludgeon Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. Trump's default to MS-13 as a symbol of the crimes committed by Latino immigrants is just another cynical call out to fear.

Yet Trump has done one thing right with regard to immigration: He has come up with a fair and generous deal that deserved more of a hearing than it was given by the Democratic leaders who quickly came out against it.

And why did that happen?

It's all politics. It's because the deal comes from Trump, and Democrats don't want to help his agenda along, give him any wins, or help him get the credit for giving 1.8 million Dreamers a path to citizenship. It's because Democrats never really cared about Dreamers as much as they claimed. And it's because Trump's accommodation for the undocumented gets in the way of Democratic attempts to demonize the president, and the GOP, as "racist" and anti-immigrant.

You see, Democrats also have a dream. They aspire to get something for nothing. They want the votes of Latinos without the nuisance of actually earning them.

Trump challenges all that -- and, in the process, upends the entire immigration debate.

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Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post Writers Group


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