Donald Trump has shot into a tie for the lead with Jeb Bush in the GOP presidential nomination sweepstakes almost exclusively because he has deliberately raised the temperature on one issue: illegal immigration.
What’s more, he is forcing other candidates from both parties to address the issue. He may be using bombastic language and questionable statistics, but there is no denying he has drawn a clear, unequivocal line between Republicans and Democrats on the issue.
So why do some Republicans want Trump to stop talking about illegal immigration?
Americans mostly support the Republican view of illegal immigration — with some important distinctions. A majority support a pathway to legal status for illegals but a larger majority support stepped-up border security. And those who support a pathway to legal status do not support a pathway to citizenship.
Of course, there are some Republicans wringing their hands over Trump’s exaggerations and even outright falsehoods. Why bother? It’s ridiculous to assume that the Republican candidate for president in 2016 will get more than 25-30% of the Hispanic vote. But drawing a stark distinction between the two parties on what could be a decisive issue in the presidential election could bring more conservatives to the polls and attract a few more independents.
Trump turned up the heat a notch this weekend when he appeared in Los Angeles with the families of loved ones killed by illegal aliens, repeating some of his claims about illegals but not backing down in the slightest to appease his hysterical critics.
Donald Trump won’t apologize for claiming that some Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and drug runners.
Instead, the real-estate mogul is trying to prove his point by finding people who have suffered violence at the hands of undocumented immigrants.
In a speech on Saturday, the presidential contender brought onstage Jameil Shaw, whose son was shot by an undocumented immigrant.
Shaw told the audience that Trump was right in his statements about undocumented immigrants and said that the man who killed his son was “raised like a dog.”
“Mr. Trump is willing to go out and sacrifice his life. He doesn’t need money. He doesn’t need the power,” said Shaw. “I trust Donald Trump.”
“I see him almost like a dad,” Shaw said. “He’s a nice guy.”
Shaw has been a vocal supporter of Trump since the real-estate mogul announced his candidacy last month.
Last week, Shaw told Fox News that Trump’s statements about undocumented immigrants made him “happy for the first time.”
Trump has made the issue of crime by undocumented immigrants a key part of his 2016 campaign.
Despite intense backlash from numerous companies with ties to Trump — many of whom have ended their business relationships with the reality-television star — Trump has refused to apologize.
On Friday, he met with families of individuals who had been killed by undocumented immigrants in an attempt to back up his point. Trump has also frequently attempted to call attention to the murder of Kathryn Steile, who was allegedly shot by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco last week.
There is no research to show that undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than naturalized citizens or legal immigrants.
As The Washington Post notes, undocumented immigrants are also less likely to be incarcerated than American citizens, and that US citizens are much more likely to be arrested for drug smuggling along the US-Mexico border.
Not everyone in the audience was happy about Trump’s statements about undocumented immigrants.
After Trump finished speaking, a man confronted the reality-television star.
“I am incredibly offended by your comments,” the man told Trump. But the real-estate mogul appeared unfazed.
“I was waiting for this,” Trump said, subsequently adding: “Did the government of Mexico ask you to come here?”
Is the point really that illegal aliens are less likely to commit a crime? Or is the point they shouldn’t be on American soil whether they are law abiding or criminals?
The GOP will never win this debate in the press. But ordinary voters are beginning to pay attention and as long as Trump keeps talking up the issue, he is likely to stay near the top of the heap in the GOP nomination fight.