AKRON, Ohio — Dean Green supports Donald Trump partly because of the GOP presidential nominee’s tough, deport-them-all stance on illegal immigration. But the 57-year-old Republican paused as he complained about U.S. immigration policy and acknowledged that deporting all 11 million people in the U.S. illegally would separate families.
“I don’t want to break up families,” Green said.
It has been 30 years since the country embarked on an immigration overhaul, and the ambivalence of voters like Green is one reason why. Polls often show that majorities favour letting people illegally in the U.S. stay and also back tougher laws to deport them. “The electorate is conflicted and that’s a fundamental problem,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “This is such an emotional issue that reason and facts have very little to do with how people stand.”
Trump is now either caught up in, or trying to exploit, that contradiction as he considers “softening” his controversial immigration stance. He won the GOP primaries on the strength of an aggressive immigration policy, calling for the immediate deportation of the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally and construction of a Mexican border wall. But as he trails in the polls and struggles to overcome record lows with minority voters, he has sounded a softer tone.