Donald Trump Admits He Doesn’t Really Want to Stop Illegal Immigration

John Westberg/Modesto Bee via ZUMA

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E-Verify is a system that employers can use to make sure they hire only people who are legally allowed to work in the United States. It’s pretty easy to use and pretty accurate—though it could still stand to be improved on that score. So should it be made mandatory for all employers? President Trump isn’t sure:

In an interview with Fox News Channel conducted last week, Trump said a new White House plan to overhaul portions of the legal immigration system could “possibly” include the use of E-Verify. But he also said that the verification system could be overly onerous on certain employers, such as farmers, who Trump said were “not equipped” to use it.

“I used it when I built the hotel down the road on Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said, referring to the Trump International Hotel in Washington. “I use a very strong E-Verify system. And we would go through 28 people — 29, 30 people — before we found one that qualified.

He continued: “So it’s a very tough thing to ask a farmer to go through that. So in a certain way, I speak against myself, but you also have to have a world of some practicality.”

As usual, it’s not clear what Trump is talking about here. Is he seriously suggesting that when they hired workers for his DC hotel, 29 out of 30 applicants were undocumented? That’s ridiculous.

Nor does it make any sense to say that farmers are “not equipped” to use E-Verify. All you need is a smartphone or a computer with an internet connection. It’s insulting to suggest that farmers aren’t up to this.

Needless to say, what Trump really means is that farmers would be seriously pissed off if he tried to make them hire only legal workers. E-Verify would do that. Unspoken—but obvious—is the corollary to this: Trump’s wall doesn’t piss off farmers because they know it won’t accomplish anything. It’s just something that sounds good to his base.

Trump’s tariffs have already hurt farmers, and the last thing he wants to do is lose their votes for good by making it hard to hire undocumented workers. That’s why he’s for a wall but against mandatory E-Verify. It’s all about practicality.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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