President Donald Trump’s backing of legislative amnesty for illegal immigrants who arrived in America as minors is a betrayal to the voters who propelled Trump to his primary victory.
A March 2016 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 52 percent of Republicans overall support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Looking at voters who supported Trump in the primary, however, paints a different picture.
An August 2016 article from The Atlantic highlighted how Trump voters backed the premise that all illegal immigrants should be “deported to [their] home country.”
The authors, Ronald Brownstein and Leah Askarinam, wrote, “Voters who supported deportation voted for Trump in such commanding numbers that they provided a majority of his votes in every state where the exit poll asked the question except New York and Wisconsin.”
They continued, “In such key early contests as New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump drew about three-fifths of his total support from voters who backed mass deportation.”
“If Trump did not consolidate such support from voters who backed deportation, the race might have unfolded very differently. In Trump’s critical early victories in South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, Illinois, North Carolina, and Missouri, exit polls showed that he trailed behind either Ted Cruz or Rubio among the majority of voters who supported legal status for undocumented immigrants,” The Atlantic concluded.
Whit Ayres, who was a pollster for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, told The Atlantic, “If [Trump] had had an immigration position like Jeb’s or Marco’s, he would have had a very difficult time generating the plurality that he generated.”
Trump, however, now wants Congress to “legalize” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects roughly 800,000 illegal immigrants from deportation.
It is unclear what this piece of legislation would entail. White House legislative director Marc Short has said the administration is so far not “entertaining” the idea of a path to citizenship.
Yet, there appears to be bipartisan consensus developing around the idea of giving the so-called Dreamers a path to citizenship.
Democrats support such a proposal. A Senate bill introduced Monday by Republicans designed to appeal to conservatives would give these 800,000 or so illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, but it would not allow them to sponsor family members to the United States.