Nearly one year ago, Donald Trump came to downtown Phoenix to deliver a speech that laid out his immigration plan.
Speculation leading up to that Aug. 31 appearance at the Phoenix Convention Center — one of seven Trump campaign stops in Arizona — was that the then-Republican presidential nominee was ready to pivot to a more moderate tone for his general-election race against the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
But then, as he has since done time and again, Trump doubled down on a hard-line message rather than reach beyond his base toward the political center.
The 10-point plan he unveiled in Phoenix that day, following a brief trip to Mexico City, included his signature border wall built at Mexico’s expense and pushback on “sanctuary cities” that don’t cooperate with U.S. immigration officials and “catch-and-release” policies.
While promising to focus mainly on undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, Trump also denounced “amnesty” for those who have settled in the U.S. and made it clear that any immigrants in the United States without authorization would be subject to deportation at any time under his administration.
“Even earlier that day, he had seemed so much more moderate in Mexico City,” recalled Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science and Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California-Irvine.
On Tuesday, Trump returns to the same downtown Phoenix venue for an outside-the-Beltway rally, the furthest west he’s traveled as president.
Could Trump pardon Arpaio?
This time, he has foreshadowed a possible pardon for disgraced former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an early and loyal supporter of Trump’s candidacy but a divisive and much-loathed figure in the nation’s immigrant community.
Arpaio, whose office was found by a federal judge to have racially profiled Latinos as part of its immigration-enforcement activities, was convicted of criminal contempt of court and is awaiting sentencing.
The suggestion that Trump is coming to Phoenix to possibly pardon Arpaio has sparked an outcry in Arizona and elsewhere — especially so soon after the president’s tepid response to white-nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
By Dan Nowicki for AZCENTRAL
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