Trump Is Changing The Immigration Debate — And The Press Isn’t Keeping Up

Journalists can’t stop arguing with President Donald Trump and his allies about immigration.

CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview with former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon, which aired Sunday, offers a telling example of this phenomenon. After Bannon said Trump should have gone “full bore” and focused “on the American citizens” by immediately ending Obama-era deportation protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children ― instead of delaying the change by six months ― interviewer Charlie Rose launched into a speech.

“America was, in the eyes of so many people, and it’s what people respect America for, it is people have been able to come here, find a place, contribute to the economy,” Rose said. “That’s what immigration has been in America. And you seem to want to turn it around and stop it.”

“You couldn’t be more dead wrong,” Bannon replied. “America was built on her citizens.”

The awkward moment recalled an early August exchange between CNN’s Jim Acosta and Stephen Miller, a top White House aide, at a press briefing. Acosta asked Miller a question much like the one Rose asked Bannon: Why did the White House support a bill that would drastically cut even legal immigration?

“What you’re proposing here, what the president’s proposing here, does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration,” Acosta said. “The Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer.”

Miller was incensed. The Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty, he argued, doesn’t have anything to do with the monument’s meaning because it was added later. Acosta, he suggested, was unfairly associating the statue with a pro-immigration agenda.

These exchanges illustrate how Trump and his allies are changing the debate over immigration, and how reporters are racing to catch up.

The remarks by Acosta and Rose have something in common: They imply that most Americans believe immigration is a good thing that helped build the U.S., and that there’s a broad consensus in favor of legal immigration.

By Nick Baumann for HUFFINGTONPOST
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