By Cody Jones, News Staff Writer
Both UNC Asheville students and alumni responded to the news that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may change his stance on immigration.
Psychology student Andy Stein said he thinks Trump is changing his policy in order to appeal to more voters for the general election.
“Especially now that he’s running for election, he has to do what it takes to get elected,” Stein said.
Trump reiterated over the past year a plan to deport the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.
During an interview on Nov. 11, Trump was asked if he was going to have a “massive deportation force.”
“You will have a deportation force and you’ll do it humanely,” Trump said.
Trump signaled an easing of his plan during a town hall meeting on Aug. 23.
Hannity asked Trump if he would reconsider deportation for immigrants who had not committed any other crime.
“There certainly can be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people,” Trump said. “We have some great people in this country, we have some great, great people in this country but we’re going to follow the laws of this country…”
UNCA alumnus Raphael Mendel said Trump is reacting to political pressure.
“I think that he probably will soften his policy just because of political pressure from within his party,” Mendel said. “Right now he’s making statements that sound like he might be softening it, but I think he’s just doing that to get more of the public to vote for him, like many of the independents and people who haven’t decided, or disenchanted Republicans.”
On Aug. 24, the GOP presidential nominee suggested a change regarding his immigration policies will come in the next two weeks.
In addition to the political pressures, Mendel does not think the plan is feasible.
“It’s practically impossible to deport 11 million Mexicans and it’s just so crude and unjust, especially for children that were born here,” Mendel said. “I think there would be so much public outcry, in addition to the political pressure on him. I just don’t think that he would do it or that he could do it, so theres got to be some alternative.”
However, Aisling Power, a senior mathematics and physics student, said whatever Trump’s plan is it ultimately doesn’t matter.
“No matter what plan he makes, I doubt it will be the actual plan that happens,” Power said. “It’s too contingent upon a lot of other things that happen and also probably what he’s feeling in the moment.”
According to the Aug. 23 NBC/SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll, 22 percent of Hispanic voters support Trump compared to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s 73 percent.
Stein said he would be surprised if Trump wins the election.
“To be honest, I don’t think Donald Trump can get elected,” Stein said. “I’ll be very, very surprised if he does.”
Power said she would most likely vote for Clinton.
Stein is more interested in the aftermath of the election and how Clinton will build trust.
“I’m pretty sure Hillary Clinton is going to be elected, Stein said. “I’m more into how she’s going to work up her reputation after destroying it a little bit.”
In a CBS News poll from June, 62 percent said Clinton is not honest or trustworthy and 33 percent said the opposite. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found 69 percent said they were concerned Clinton has a record of being dishonest.
“So it’s funny how we see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump running for election,” Stein said. “We have a candidate who’s a demagogue and one candidate who is untrustworthy.”
After a week of uncertainty, Trump clarified his immigration policy on Aug. 31 in Phoenix.
“We will break the cycle of amnesty and illegal immigration,” Trump said. “We will break the cycle. There will be no amnesty.”
Trump said he would create a “deportation task force” within the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and increase the number of ICE agents. He did not commit to deporting the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants as he previously had, but instead focused on “criminal aliens.”
“Zero tolerance for criminal aliens,” Trump said. “Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone. And you can call it deported if you want. The press don’t like that term. You can call it whatever the hell you want. They’re gone.”
Shortly after Trump’s speech, David Duke, white nationalist and former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted his support: “Excellent speech by Donald Trump tonight. Deport criminal aliens, end catch and release, enforce immigration laws & America First.”