Arizona is synonymous with immigration drama. There was SB 1070 in 2010 and the infamous antics of the convicted former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. So when President Trump arrived at the Phoenix convention center for his rally, it was a safe bet he’d serve up some immigration red meat.
There was immigration red meat, but unlike other rallies Trump has held in Arizona it wasn’t the main course. Let’s say immigration was a healthy-sized side portion.
Of his 77 minute speech the majority of his time was spent bashing the media and the two home state Republican Senators, Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake. The President feels personally offended at what he believes is an unfair characterization of his Charlottesville response.
Then there’s President Trump’s personal beef with the Arizona GOP Senators. Recently Senator Jeff Flake released a book were he essentially bashes the president. Then there’s Senator McCain’s vote against repealing Obamacare. The Arizona Senators don’t like Trump and Trump doesn’t like them, a point that was resoundingly clear last night.
Beyond settling his personal scores with the media and the Arizona senators Trump did not disappoint in his immigration message. Close to a year ago Donald Trump stood in that same Phoenix convention center laying out his plan to build the border wall and restrict immigration.
Fast forward a year and the President doesn’t have much to show his supporters in terms of his immigration campaign promises. Nevertheless he reassured his crowd that The Wall would be built, “But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”
Once President Trump accepted he would not get Mexico to pay for the wall he turned to Congress. Congress, like Mexico, doesn’t have any interest in paying $4 billion for a border wall. Congress also doesn’t have any interest in shutting down the government, as Senate leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said.
Again, wall talk was a about red meat; it was about revving up the base, even though there's nothing legislatively substantive or even possible.
Then there’s Sheriff Joe. President Trump did not issue a presidential pardon for Arpaio, who's being held in contempt of court for racially profiling Latinos. He might as well have considering his remarks. President Trump dismissed the issue of racial profiling and instead said that Sheriff Arpaio was only doing his job.
“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” In other words, the President was voicing his support for breaking the law and doing something that is simply wrong. Then the President threw in a pardon teaser, “I’ll make a prediction, I think he’s going to be just fine. OK?”
The border wall, allowing for racial profiling and a general clamping down on immigration talk were all there last night. It might not have been a classic immigration red meat dinner, but it was sure to satiate the crowd’s hunger.
Victoria is a political scientist and commentator. She is a professor at the University of Texas. Victoria received her Ph.D. from Duke University and was named one of the top 12 scholars in the country by Diverse magazine. She previously served on the faculty of Northwestern University. Her research on political behavior has been widely published in scholarly journals and cited in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Time, and POLITICO. Victoria lives in Austin with her husband Neftalí García and their children.