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Honestly – I’m still trying to make sure that posts about Donald Trump don’t completely dominate RealityChek. But with the Republican presidential front-runner still shaking up American politics and policy on an almost daily basis, especially on the vitally important issues of trade and immigration, what am I supposed to do?

The latest bombshells Trump has dropped into the 2016 election mix have now received extensive coverage from The New York Times and the Washington Post – entailing his talk of tax hikes on key segments of the Republican political donor base, like offshoring multinational companies and hedge fund managers.

But the Post article also indicated that an equally important development has been gathering momentum: Some major Republican candidates are starting to criticize Open Borders and amnesty-friendly immigration policies not only on national security, sovereignty, and law-and-order grounds; out of multi-culturalism-related concerns; or based on their role in excessively fueling Big Government and the Welfare State. Instead, these figures are starting to criticize the establishment’s current and favored immigration policies on wage-related grounds. It’s a shift that – finally – opens the way, at least in theory, for these candidates and others to start criticizing the trade policy status quo for similar reasons,and weaken its hold on political Washington.

For years, I’ve been struck by how immigration policy critics have faced the same kinds of powerful opponents as trade policy critics – especially Big Business and the Mainstream Media – yet have achieved much more impressive results. And for just as many years, I’ve been frustrated that even during economically troubled times, these immigration critics haven’t focused their formidable energies and talents on trade measures and decisions that have devastated the jobs and wages of the middle- and working-class Americans so prominent in their ranks. Still more bewildering, many Republican politicians in Washington who staunchly opposed amnesty-friendly immigration reform proposals just as staunchly backed job- and wage-killing trade measures.

Trump has long been one of a handful of national figures who has been as exorcised about Washington’s thoroughly bipartisan trade policy blunders as about its immigration policy failures, and both indictments have been at the center of his campaign. Now it looks like his success to date, and his focus on the pocketbook impact of the establishment’s trade and immigration agenda, has spawned some influential imitators.

Thus, reports Post correspondent Jim Tankersley, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has recently lamented “the enormous downward pressure on wages and employment that unrestrained illegal immigration is providing.” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has become even more emphatic on the subject, and strongly suggested that legal immigration as a major contributor to wage stagnation as well:

In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying—the next president and the next congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages, because the more I’ve talked to folks, I’ve talked to {Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama] and others out there—but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today—is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages, and we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward.”

Cruz actually voted against granting fast track trade negotiating authority to President Obama earlier this year, but animus toward the president rather than economics seemed his main motivation. Indeed, after fast track’s passage, a Cruz spokesman somewhat confusingly declared that “Sen. Cruz remains a strong supporter of free trade and fast-track.” In his only other major trade vote, in 2013, he opposed expanding Buy American requirements for certain federal infrastructure projects.

It’s time for Cruz’ supporters, and those whose support he seeks, to ask him why he thinks admitting large numbers of immigrants from low-income countries like Mexico depresses U.S. wages, but passing trade deals that send U.S. production to such countries – and their low wage workers – has no such impact. Ditto for Walker, who hasn’t voted for any trade agreements, but has strongly endorsed Mr. Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal (albeit with some wiggle room).

Indeed, if these candidates aren’t ready to rethink their illogical endorsement of these economically destructive trade policies, I’d advise them to start thinking of some convincing answers soon. Because if the voters don’t yet get the connection, it’s clear that the outspoken Mr. Trump does.

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