It seems Donald Trump wasn’t kidding about kicking out the immigrants. Trump just ejected a Mexican-American reporter from a press conference. Univision reporter Jorge Ramos, a Mexican-American immigrant who works for Univision, was attempting to ask Trump how he plans to deport 11 million immigrants. Trump told him: “Go back to Univision,” then signaled for security with a kissing gesture. With a mere glance to his goon, Trump violated a reporter’s First Amendment rights.
Perhaps Trump realized the atrocious optics, because Ramos was allowed to return, and was given a chance to ask his question. Trump has criticized birthright citizenship, which is enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It is a fundamental pillar of American civil life that a child born in the US is an American citizen. Ramos told Trump that he can’t change birthright citizenship without changing the Constitution. Trump responded,
“No, no. But a lot of people think that’s not right, that an act of Congress can do it. Now, it’s possibly going to need to be tested in courts. But a lot of people think that if you come and you’re on the other side of the border. … A woman is getting ready to have a baby, she crosses the border for one day, all of a sudden, for the next 80 years, hopefully longer, … we have to take care of the people. … Some of the greatest legal scholars, and I know some of the television scholars agree with you, but some of the great legal scholars agree that that’s not true.”
It’s not clear what “great legal scholars” Trump is referring to. But the idea that overturning the 14th Amendment would be easy, or even conceivable, is nonsense. Frightening demagoguery, but nonsense, nonetheless.
It’s also not clear why Trump thinks America needs to take care of immigrants for 80 years. This seems to subtly imply that Trump thinks either that immigrants don’t receive the benefits of an American education, or they are ‘lazy’ and ‘don’t want to work’ as racists will assert without evidence. Either underlying reason for that statement is troubling for a man who seeks the presidency.
The exchange between Trump and Ramos is likely to deepen Trump’s problems with Hispanic voters. Trump’s rhetoric against Hispanics is so inflammatory, it inspired a hate crime in Boston. Recent polling shows that Hispanics DESPISE Trump. Trump polls at -51% approval among likely Hispanic voters. That is many times lower than anyone else in the race, and is a difference of 91% between himself and Hillary, who is the front runner among likely Hispanic voters, with a +40% approval rating. Trump’s thuggish handling of a Mexican-American reporter asking him about his immigration policy could drive Trump to a level of toxicity among Hispanic voters that no mainstream presidential candidate has ever seen.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz studied a focus group of Trump supporters, and realized that Trump’s xenophobia had invaded a huge swath of the Republican base, and that his lead wasn’t going away. He told Time magazine his ‘legs were shaking’ when he realized that the Republican standard-bearer really reflected a strain of white nationalist thinking that has infected the Republican base. Trump may utterly demolish any relationship between the GOP and Hispanic voters before he’s finished.
CNN reported last week that Trump advisers suspect that the Republican National Committee is running a secret anti-Trump war room, hoping to take him down to make room for an establishment candidate. The RNC denied it when CNN contacted them. A spokesperson said, “It’s located at Area 51. Elvis runs it.” If the RNC didn’t have any anti-Trump room before tonight, it’s probably a safe bet that they will now.