Byko: Trump's 2 faces are reflections of our own

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the American Legion Convention on Sept. 1, 2016, in Cincinnati.

DONALD TRUMP'S two faces were on public view Wednesday. He is us.

In the afternoon, standing beside Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, there was the gracious and soft-spoken Trump. He seemed like he was reading a bedtime story to a 7-year-old, but was presidential.

Hours later, laying out his 10-point immigration plan before a cheering Phoenix audience, he seemed like an aggravated parent at a Little League game.

By Thursday morning, addressing the American Legion, he was again low-energy, but thumping the familiar theme that he would "advance the cause of Americanism - not globalism."

Once again, the P.T. Barnum of politics dominated the news cycle and proved to be a master of political theater.

Once again, his 75-minute Phoenix speech - and the reaction to it - reflected the dichotomy in the American psyche over the decades-old Gordian knot of illegal immigration.

We are simultaneously a Nation of Immigrants and a Nation of Law. Illegal immigration is a fault line between the two.

An analyst from the left called the Phoenix speech "nationalistic" and "aggressive." An analyst from the right found it "vigorous" and "vibrant."

That illustrates the different ways we hear the same words.

The foundation of his 10-point plan - aside from his trademark "build the wall" - basically supports U.S. law. Is that "nationalistic" or even controversial?

Apparently it is.

Here are the 10 points, with commentary:

1. Build the wall. That's his signature promise. Is it feasible? Maybe. Will Mexico pay for it? Not willingly.

2. End "catch and release." That means holding undocumented persons accused of other crimes for trial instead of releasing them on bail. To my surprise, Janet Murguia, the president of the National Council of la Raza, a Hispanic advocacy organization, said on MSNBC that she agreed.

3. Zero tolerance for criminal aliens. That refers to people who have committed a crime in addition to illegal entry.

4. End funding for Sanctuary Cities. Last year Rasmussen Reports said 62 percent of likely voters wanted Sanctuary Cities punished, so he's with the majority there.

5. Cancel Obama's executive orders on immigration. One has been blocked by the courts, the other shields from removal those brought here as juveniles by their parents. They should not be held accountable for what their parents did.

6. Suspend visas from countries with inadequate screening. He didn't mention Muslims this time, and it's common sense to screen immigrants now, as in the past.

7. Make countries take back those deported from this country. Trump said 23 will not accept their nationals back. Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal has promised to write legislation to sanction such countries. (In 2001 the Supreme Court ruled that convicted criminals can be held for only six months, after which they must be released. More than 100 illegal immigrants released from detention were later charged in homicides, according to the Washington Post.)

8. Complete biometric entry-exit visa tracking system. Common sense.

9. Turn off jobs and benefits magnet. People without visas are prohibited from working in this country, so this just reflects the law. Undocumented adults don't get benefits such as food stamps, and most Americans would not deny them to children.

10. Reform legal immigration. While he avoided the words "mass deportation," he wants all "good" illegal immigrants to return to their home countries and apply for a visa. He is in conflict with the 70 percent of Americans, as reported last year by Pew Research, who want a way for those here illegally to remain here.

Trump also made mention of returning immigration to "historical norms," whatever that means, but sounds like preference for whites.

He said immigrant policy should be "in the best interests of America and the American people" and immigrants should be selected on their skills, ability to assimilate, and their willingness to share our values, which doesn't strike me as extreme.

His strongest line was: "You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country."

That sounds harsh to some ears, but it is simply a statement of U.S. law.

"There will be no amnesty," he said time and again.

The emotional high point was the presentation of almost a dozen relatives of those who were killed by illegal immigrants, including those with previous convictions, putting a human face on the statistics.

It has been said that the Democrats are the Mommy Party, willing to kiss boo-boos and forgive all trespasses, while Republicans are the Daddy Party, strict and unyielding.

The reason Daddy is so adamant against amnesty is because it has been granted before and the illegal immigration problem only got worse.

When it comes to those here illegally, are you Mommy or Daddy?

stubyko@phillynews.com

215-854-5977 @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko

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