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On Wednesday, after a bizarre swing through Mexico that ended about as strangely as you’d expect
, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doubled down on his anti-immigrant stance in an Arizona speech after weeks of speculation that he’d changed his position on the matter.
Trump emerged from a last-minute meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Wednesday claiming his trip across the border was meant to strengthen ties between the United States and a country he's demonized for most of his presidential run. Trump said it was a good meeting and that that whole border-wall thing didn't even come up; Peña Nieto quickly disputed that
, saying he'd told Trump off the bat that Mexico wouldn't pay for such a wall. The New York Times
editorial board aptly called it the Trump campaign's moment of "peak absurdity."
Fresh off his trip down south, Trump then traveled to Phoenix, Arizona where he delivered what can only be described as a 75-minute anti-immigrant diatribe
with George Wallace-like
undertones, a speech that (surprise!) drew ringing praise from prominent white nationalists
and former Klan members.
In it, Trump repeated some of his most extreme proposals, despite weeks of speculation from pundits that Trump had "softened" on immigration, repeating his call for Mexico to pay for a border wall, the "extreme vetting" of legal immigrants into the country, and an ideological litmus test for immigrants (particularly for Muslims). The alarming theme throughout Trump's address: immigrants are roaming the streets, killing people and stealing jobs from American. He vowed to create a new "deportation force" to take care of the country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Trump's hard turn back into the anti-immigrant rhetoric that launched his campaign was too much for even some staunch Texas supporters to stomach. On the heels of Trump's speech, prominent Houston immigration lawyer Jacob Monty, a member of Trump's so-called National Hispanic Advisory Council (one of six from Texas), disavowed the candidate and said he'd even stop raising money for him.
“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” Monty told Politico
. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.” Just earlier this week, Monty, who had been up until now one of the loudest and strongest Latino voices for Trump, told the Texas Tribune
that he was "aggressively supporting" that candidate.