Press Statement

NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía On Trump Immigration Speech: Mass Deportation by Any Other Name Is Still Mass Deportation

August 31, 2016

Julian Teixeira
(202) 776-1812

WASHINGTON, D.C.In a speech tonight to supporters in Phoenix, Arizona, Donald Trump outlined his long-awaited immigration platform. NCLR has been highly critical of Trump’s scapegoating and demonization of immigrants and Latinos in his rhetoric, but we believe that his proposal also deepens the already wide rift between the candidate and our community.

“There was no ‘pivot’ tonight. Instead Donald Trump doubled down on an immigration platform that continues to be based on falsehoods, distortions and dog whistles culled directly from the most extreme elements of the anti-immigrant movement. In short, Donald Trump threw cold water on those who were expecting a real and workable solution on this issue,” stated Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.

Murguía’s full statement is below:

Like the majority of our fellow Americans, NCLR supports modernizing our immigration system so that it increases effective legal channels for those seeking to enter; provides a way for those who are long-term residents to come forward, be vetted, and fully integrate into American society as millions of immigrants have done in our history; and maintains strong, smart, effective border controls.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump built his campaign on promises of building a wall, cutting legal immigration and creating a massive deportation force to deport all undocumented immigrants, along with their U.S.-citizen family members. In the last couple of weeks, there has been much speculation about whether the details of his signature issue has changed, muddled by contradictory statements from both the candidate and people in his campaign.

As I testified when the Senate last considered immigration reform: when rhetoric meets reality, reality wins every time. Tonight, the Trump campaign confirmed that it remains mired in rhetoric rather than reality; his proposed immigration policy still rests on building a wall and imposing mass deportations. These are not real solutions, and most Americans are opposed to those measures. Experts agree that a mass deportation strategy would blow a hole through the budget, reduce economic growth and tax revenues, result in massive violations of civil rights, tear families apart, and potentially remove millions of U.S. citizens from the land of their birth.

In addition, Trump would:

  • Repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and with the stroke of a pen throw more than 700,000 DREAMers back into unlawful status.
  • Try to change the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship.
  • Support state laws that have resulted in racial profiling of Latinos.
  • Cut visas for legal immigrants, which would encourage more to come without authorization.
  • Impose an unconstitutional religious test on new immigrants and refugees seeking to enter the United States.

These proposals would not modernize the immigration system, nor are they supported by the vast majority of Americans. 

In reality, immigration is the product of our uniquely dynamic economy, our country’s traditions of liberty and equality, a society that is increasingly connected with the rest of the world, and of families who want to be together. But while our economy, our society and our families have changed since reforms enacted decades ago, our immigration system has not. 

In sum, this is not a debate about more or less immigration. It is about regulating the immigration that is already happening, determining how much of it will happen within legal channels, and within our control. It is about modernizing the immigration system so that those wishing to live here do so within the law rather than around it, enabling us to focus enforcement efforts on upholding national security and public safety. 

Any proposal put forth should be judged on the merits of how it advances these goals. Today, we had a chance to hear more specifics, and no amount of wordsmithing can hide the fact that Trump is sticking to positions that are impractical, expensive and unconstitutional. By refusing to do anything meaningful to allow long-term undocumented residents to come forward and get right with the law, and by cutting legal channels for people to enter lawfully, Trump’s immigration policy platform remains grossly inadequate. And by declining to disavow his earlier promise of mass deportations, Trump showed he is still not willing to acknowledge reality.

What impact this may have electorally is for voters to decide. But it should be noted that the rift Trump has created between himself and the Latino community is far deeper than a policy disagreement. Trump kicked off his campaign with a wholesale characterization of Mexican immigrants as “criminals, rapists and drug dealers,” and then called into question an American judge’s ability to do his job based on his Mexican ancestry. NCLR and dozens of other civil rights organizations have called on Trump to apologize for these horrific remarks. We, and the American people, are still awaiting such an apology.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.