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Brooks: Trump Is Playing ‘Native Whites Against Foreigners,’ But Immigration Substance is ‘Quietly Almost Moderate’

On Friday’s “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks stated that while Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is playing “us vs. them politics” of “native whites against foreigners,” the substance of his immigration speech in Phoenix “was actually quietly almost moderate,” and “if you look at the substance of what’s being said, both by Clinton and Trump, you can very easily predict where we’re going to end up on immigration. We are going to secure the border. We’re not going to build a wall, but we will secure the border. We will legalize, in some form or another the people, who are here.”

Brooks said, “[T]he substance of what the — of what he said in Phoenix was actually quietly almost moderate, I think, but the tone is much more important. And the tone is the same old hostility to immigration.”

Brooks further stated, “I would just add that, if you look at the substance of what’s being said, both by Clinton and Trump, you can very easily predict where we’re going to end up on immigration. We are going to secure the border. We’re not going to build a wall, but we will secure the border. We will legalize, in some form or another the people, who are here. And we will shift a little more to a skills-based system than a family reunification system. That’s the basis of what is going to happen.”

He added of immigration, “It’s not a major issue. And the reason it’s worked for Trump is because he’s playing identity politics. He’s playing us vs. them politics, basically native whites against foreigners. And so the wall is not really a wall. I think most people know he’s not going to actually going to build a wall, and certainly Mexico is not going to pay for it. It’s a way to say, I’m for us, against the encroachments of them. And in times of economic stress, or among people who feel economic stress, there’s unfortunately a susceptibility to that kind of identity politics.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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