...Trump’s approach to immigration is to make border control a priority over deportation. And a big part of that plan involves persuasion. In order to convince would-be illegal immigrants to stay in their own country, you have to make it look like a bad deal to come to America illegally, which is not the case right now. In other words, Trump is focusing on persuasion – the area he knows best.
Realistically, you can’t control the borders with any kind of barrier if the rewards for entering the country illegally are high enough. But if you keep the rewards low, your wall has a good chance of working. Trump knows construction and he knows persuasion. He intelligently combined those talents to create his wall plan.
The problem for Trump – and for the country – is that being hardasses to illegal immigrants violates our national character. These folks are our friends, neighbors, and coworkers. We don’t wish them harm on an individual level. So how can Trump create an immigration policy that addresses the legitimate need for border control with our human need to be kind? It can’t be done.
Unless you are a Master Persuader. Then it’s easy.
Trump needed to soften his immigration stance to sell it to undecided voters while at the same time hardening it for his core supporters. To succeed, he needed to move in two opposite directions at once. Impossible.
So what he did was create a speech that was hardcore and scary in tone and delivery, while leaving an escape hatch in language. In other words, he gave you two opposite and competing messages at the same time. He sent a message of hardening with his tone while sending a message of softening with his words. Pick the one you like...
The media is working overtime to persuade people that Trump is saying things that he isn't. Trump called for the deportation of illegal immigrants and NBC describes it as "demonizing immigrants," making no distinction between illegals and legal ones, though Trump made that distinction explicit in his speech.