Trumpist Populism Mounts a Ferocious Comeback with the Immigration Debate

Trump holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington

A senior administration official indicated Tuesday that the president will pursue a hardline immigration agenda, even in the face of government shutdown. 

Kris Kobach, the hardliner Kansas Secretary of State (and passed-over candidate for U.S. Attorney General and DHS chief), warned Breitbart Monday evening of the dangers of most any White House deal with the Democrats on DACA, despite the fact that failure to do so could shut down the government. “There will be a surge, it is guaranteed,” Kobach, a populist candidate for Kansas governor, said. “If there is a DACA amnesty, there will be a massive surge of hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million, new illegal aliens.… What happens when you grant amnesty is immediately people flood across the border because they want to falsely claim that they were already here and get the new amnesty or they want to at least get here and wait for the next amnesty.” Coulter said Tuesday that Trump should speak with Kobach by phone.

The looming question is whether the immigration debate will finally illuminate decisively that the Trump phenomenon is about more than Donald Trump, celebrity businessman. Scott Greer at The Daily Caller declares: “Trumpism Will Survive Without Bannon,” pointing out rising stars on the populist Right (like Kobach); Greer namechecks Rep. Lou Barletta, a candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania. Barletta gained moderate national attention last decade as the hardline mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Hazleton-area political writer Charles McElwee tells me Barletta “had a singular focus on immigration issues long before anyone really paid serious attention to it.” Says McElwee: back in 2006 (when George W. Bush attempted comprehensive immigration reform), Barletta and television host Lou Dobbs, now generally a steadfast Trump ally, led the charge against capitulation. Other names percolate. Ian Mason of Breitbart cheers Sen. Tom Cotton: “This guy. This guy right here.” And The New Yorker asks: “Is Tom Cotton the Future of Trumpism?” For now, the jury is out.

Curt Mills is a foreign-affairs reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @CurtMills.

Image: Reuters