JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Some Good Talk About Immigration At GOP Debate, Trump Rally—And Some Signs It’s Serious
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

See also: VIDEO SUPERCUT: Immigration At THIRD GOP Debate—”What We Need To Do Is Stop Using Our Military To Protect Somebody Else’s Border...”

Wednesday’s GOP Presidential candidates’ debate in Miami, Florida was the third in this cycle. President Trump staged a competing rally, in Hialeah, FL.

Watching the first one back in August I said:

…for a moment I had the thought that I was watching something irrelevant; the acting-out of some formal ritual that no longer has any actual significance, from which nothing of any consequence will follow.

I’ve gotten the same vibe from Debates Two and Three. In the case of this one, though—Number Three—the vibe was somewhat muted.

The reason for that is that this one was less of a circus than the previous two; and the reason for that is that there were only five candidates on stage, as against eight in the first debate and seven in the second.

My overall impression was that these five candidates played the same roles as before, but amplified. DeSantis was even more the normal guy; Haley even more the neocon world-saver; Christie even more the light relief; Scott even more the likeable no-hoper; Ramaswamy even more the obnoxious teenager.

As before, I pulled up a transcript and keyed Ctrl-F on ”i-m-m-i-g-r.”

Only two hits, down from six in the last debate. One of the two was a debate moderator asking a question about Venezuela, nothing directly to do with immigration.

The second was Ron DeSantis replying to a question about—guess what—abortion!

He told an uplifting story about a Florida Supreme Court judge he’d appointed. The judge was an immigrant from Jamaica. Her mother, who was poor, had contemplated abortion but decided against it. Uh-huh…

OK, Gov. Way to skip around the abortion question. We get that you’re disposed against abortion. What we want to know is: If elected President, will you try for federal legislation on abortion, or will you leave it with the states, where Dobbs put it (and where, in my opinion, it belongs?)

Having struck out with Ctrl-F on ”i-m-m-i-g-r,” I fell back on Ctrl-F ”b-o-r-d-e-r.”

That was more fruitful: 39 hits, only four from moderators. Of the 35 mentions by candidates, Senator Tim Scott was out ahead with eleven, DeSantis and Ramaswamy eight each, Haley and Christie four each. Representative samples, with occasional comments from me.

  1. DeSantis: ”The elites … don’t care that your family’s less secure because of the open border that’s allowed drugs and even terrorists to come into this country.”
  2. DeSantis again: ”[Trump] should explain why he didn’t have Mexico pay for the border wall.” My comment: yes, he really should.
  3. Haley: ”You’ve got an open border where terrorists can come through and we’ve got wars happening all over us and there are dangers around us.”

My comment: ”Wars happening all over us”? Funny, I haven’t noticed any happening over me.

  1. Ramaswamy: ”I would tell [Bibi Netanyahu] to smoke those terrorists on his southern border and then I’ll tell him as President of the United States, I’ll be smoking the terrorists on our southern border.”

My comment: I want someone with serious executive government experience in the White House, which pretty much rules out Ramaswamy; but I have to admit I can’t help liking the guy.

  1. Scott:We are not going to send your sons and daughters to Ukraine. I am going to send troops to our southern border.”
  2. Scott again: ”For $10 billion we could close our southern border.”
  3. Scott again: ”With a hundred thousand overdose deaths in our country and the 70,000 that is directly linked to fentanyl, we have to deal with our ports of entry and deal with our southern border.”

My comment: Good to hear ports of entry mentioned. It’s not just the border.

  1. Christie: “On day one, I would sign an executive order that would send the National Guard to partner with Customs and Border Patrol, both at ports of entry and at the open ports of our border. Customs and Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed.”
  2. DeSantis yet again: ”I am going to deport people who came illegally and I’m even going to build the border wall and have Mexico pay for it like Donald Trump promised. How are you going to do it? Yeah, Mexico’s not going to fork over money. We’re going to impose fees on the remittances that foreign workers send to foreign countries.”
  3. Haley again: ”We’ll put 25,000 more Border Patrol and ICE agents on the ground and let them do their job.”
  4. Ramaswamy again: ”What we need to do is stop using our military to protect somebody else’s border halfway around the world when we’re short right here at home, get serious about protecting this border. And then the other thing that hasn’t been discussed is the northern border. I’m the only candidate on the stage as far as I’m aware, who has actually visited the northern border.”

My comment: Good to hear a mention of the northern border.

So, some good feisty talk there from the candidates.

If any of these people were to make it to the White House, I imagine we’d get some good feisty Executive Orders, as we did when Trump made it in 2017.

Shall we get any legislation, though? This is the Republican Party, remember—the party of Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, the party that elevated Paul Ryan, dumped Jeff Sessions, and sidelined Kris Kobach and Steve King.

I tried a couple more Ctrl-Fs: ”Birthright” and ”E-verify.” No hits on either.

Leaving aside world-saver Nikki Haley, who for all our sakes should be kept as far away as possible from the nuclear football, this was not a bad cast of candidates.

Perhaps one or two of them could beat the Democrats next year. The question is, though, can any of them beat the Republican Party?

While those five GOP candidates were debating in Miami, Donald Trump was holding a rally there.

The rally was actually in Hialeah, a working-class suburb of Miami that is 95 percent Hispanic. Almost all of those Hispanics are of Cuban extraction; a high proportion are Trump fans. There just seems to be something about having lived in Cuba, or having family members who lived there, that makes you a Trump fan.

Trump’s rally was a big success. He spoke for an hour and twenty minutes; often rambling inconsequentially, as he often does, but keeping the crowd’s enthusiasm alight.

He came out particularly strong on illegal immigration. Rather than tell you second-hand what he said, I’ll give you the man himself. Here’s three minutes of Donald Trump at Hialeah.

On Day One I will stop the invasion of our southern border. We will stop it.

One-point … think of this: One-point-five million people in my opinion are coming in every two months. I think the number’s going to end up being not three million people, not five, not seven, not ten that you hear; the real number, you know, talking about gotaways … you know, the gotaways are many, many times the ones they catch—I think the number’s going to be more than fifteen million people, which is larger than New York State. [Cheers.] Thank you.

Under Biden the U.S. has become the dumping ground of the world. Inmates are being emptied out of their prisons, insane asylums, and mental institutions, and they’re pouring into the United States.

Think of it: empty insane asylums. That’s a bad word. My people say: ”Please don’t use those words, Sir.” Why? ”Because it’s so nasty.” Well, that’s true. Now an insane asylum is Silence of the Lambs. Anybody ever hear of Hannibal Lecter? [Voices from crowd: ”Yeah!”] He was a nice fellow. But that’s what’s coming into our country right now.

And mental institutions, which is a couple of degrees below that. And prisons and jails—there’s a little difference. And they’re coming in in levels never seen before—probably never seen before in any country. There’s never been anything like this. Our country is being invaded! This is an invasion. It’s an invasion.

A few months ago right here in Florida a sadistic illegal alien in Lee County was charged with kidnapping a woman from a night-club, dragging her into the woods, beating her, raping her, and leaving her with what were called ”bone-chilling injuries” so bad that she’s still trying to recover. And she’s still very close to death.

In Alabama a previously-deported illegal alien was charged with savagely murdering, just absolutely murdering, a 34-year-old woman and her 14-year-old son before dismembering their bodies while holding captive the woman’s 12-year-old daughter, who watched.

This is the kind of monstrosity you’d expect from terrorists in the Middle East, but it’s happening right here because of crooked Joe Biden. It’s right here, Florida; in our country, all over our country.

On Day One I will terminate every open borders policy of the Biden Administration. [Crowd cheers.] And we will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history. [Prolonged loud cheering.] So sad we even have to talk about this. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just talk about fixing our country and making it great without having to do all this? But we have no choice.

Trump Vows ’Largest Domestic Deportation Operation’ in US History, NewsMax, November 8, 2023

As I said, some rambling, and not always coherent. (Is there actually a difference between ”insane asylums” and ”mental institutions”—the latter, according to Trump, ”a couple of degrees below” them? Beats me.)

The crowd liked it, that’s the main thing.

It might not be just empty bluster, either. You may remember, I reported to you a few months ago that there had been a small flurry of news stories—The Economist, the New York Times—telling us that

Trump and his people today, with Think Tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the America First Policy Institute in the lead, are making sure that a second Trump term will hit the ground running, policies and policy-makers all set to go.

The premise there was that Trump and his people had entered 2017 totally unprepared for office, and his term had suffered accordingly. They were determined not to repeat that mistake.

Well, the BBC News website last Sunday posted yet another of those ”What a Donald Trump second term would look like” prognostications. That was the actual title: What a Donald Trump second term would look like. Sample quote:

For those wondering what Mr Trump intends to do if American voters send him back to the White House in 12 months, the former president is laying it all out.

It’s there in bite-size chunks on his campaign website, it’s heard at his rally speeches and it’s documented by people he has entrusted to work on his second term preparations.

They call the plan Agenda47—a reference to Mr Trump becoming America’s 47th president if he wins.

So presumably that’s what we were hearing from Trump there in Hialeah Wednesday evening: some nuggets from Agenda47.

Trump sounds like he’s blowing out hot air, the same way he sounded back in 2016.

This time, though, there is some serious preparation behind it.

So say the BBC, the New York Times, and The Economist.

I hope they’re right.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at can do so here.



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