Donald Trump gave a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters at the Phoenix Convention Center the harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration they wanted to hear on Wednesday night.
Forget any softening of the Republican presidential candidate's message on the subject. Hours after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City, Trump offered up a 10-point plan that included his previous immigration ideas, and then some.
Under his plan, jobs and benefits will be taken away from undocumented residents, forcing them to take advantage of his path to legality, which requires self-deportation. But first, 2 million "criminal aliens" will be removed immediately. Any crime whatsoever committed by an undocumented person will be grounds for deportation.
"Day One, my first hour in office, those people are gone," he said.
He'll build his "Great Wall" and make Mexico pay for it. He'll also hire 5,000 new border agents and build new border facilities. (Americans will have to pay for that, apparently.)
Trump said he wants to cut off federal funding for any city that provides sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. Ironically, the city of Phoenix this week approved the creation of a special ID card that undocumented residents could use to obtain services.
Trump's plan included his "extreme vetting" concept to prevent people from certain Middle Eastern countries from traveling or immigrating to the United States. He said immigrants would receive "ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values and love our people."
The Arizona crowd ate it up, waving signs and cheering. Each time the candidate mentioned the news media, hundreds of people dutifully turned and jeered at the bleacher set aside for news cameras and reporters.
One man repeatedly lofted a lifelike, fanged mask of Hillary Clinton that had the word "evil" scrawled across the forehead. Any mention of Clinton's name brought copious boos. Chants of "Lock her up!" broke out often.
The families of people killed by undocumented suspects helped set the tone for the extreme action Trump is pushing. In between speakers including Governor Doug Ducey, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Trump's main man in Arizona, Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit, the "Angel Moms" were brought on stage to tell heartbreaking stories of murdered loved ones. Trump went over some of the victims' names and used their stories to punctuate his diatribe. Then the Angel Moms repeated their stories with Trump, near the end of his hour-long speech.
"Countless Americans who have died in recent years would be alive today if not for the open-border policy of this administration," Trump asserted.
Supporters interviewed by New Times agreed it was a solid speech by their candidate, and they thought his plan sounded great, albeit with fine details that needed to be worked out.
"There's always the devil in the details, but Trump's a big-picture guy, and you've got to start somewhere," said Charlie Levesque of Mesa. "A guy like Trump is a dealmaker, and he knows how to get things done.
"He does things quickly and under budget."
"He was just awesome," said Judy Tanaka of Peoria. "He's not PC. Doggone it, he's going to do it for the country. And he hardly sleeps."
John Kavanagh, a Republican lawmaker from Fountain Hills, came out to watch Trump with his wife, Linda, the mayor of Fountain Hills, and some friends. Asked if he thought Trump's plan was realistic, Kavanagh said yes. Most of the plan could be done by executive action, he said.
"He would simply tell the Border Patrol and everybody else to enforce the law," Kavanagh said. "He may need additional appropriations, but maybe we can call the wall a stimulus program." He chuckled as he said the last part.
Andy Zhang, a Trump supporter from Phoenix who came to the rally with friends and family, all wearing shirts that read, "Arizona Chinese Americans for Trump," said he was concerned about illegal immigration and terrorism.
"It was a good speech — it touched a chord with Arizonans," he said.
Zhang, who's running for the Roosevelt Elementary School District board, said he liked other things about Trump, too, and believes it's important to put a conservative in the White House who'll select the next U.S. Supreme Court justices.
New Times asked Zhang what he thought of how last August, Trump made fun of the way an English-learning Chinese person might talk, saying China's leaders would tell him, "We want deal!"
"Political correctness has gone way too far, and it must be stopped," Zhan replied. "People can't talk, they can't express opinions."
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