NEWS

Trump campaign denies Daily Wildcat entry to Phoenix speech detailing immigration policy

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Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the audience during a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016.

As a reporter and an editor, I’ve covered six presidential campaign stops in Arizona — four of them being Republican candidate Donald Trump or his running mate Mike Pence — but Wednesday’s Phoenix Trump rally was the first time I’ve been denied access.

We weren’t denied access once, but twice. The second time, we were escorted from the building.

Stopped at the gates

Trump came to Phoenix immediately following a morning stop in Mexico City for a meeting with Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto. Trump's intention was to give a speech detailing his immigration policy, and our intent was to cover it.

The Daily Wildcat’s original request to be credentialed for the event was denied, but after a call to Brian Seitchik, Trump’s Arizona state director, we felt confident that we’d get access. So we headed to Phoenix.

At the media check-in station, our plea with the campaign seemed to have prevailed, as all five of our names were on the list. Alex McIntyre, a Daily Wildcat photographer, and myself were issued credentials and proceeded through the Secret Service security screening.

We made our way through the Phoenix Convention Center and headed toward the press pit at the back of the roughly one-third full venue, until we were stopped by Kathryn Wellner, a communications coordinator for the Trump campaign. She wanted our credentials.

According to Wellner, we were never supposed to be let in the building, despite our apparent inclusion on the list of approved media. The only reason she gave was a quick, “Well, you’re not on my list,” and an explanation that the decision was “out of her hands.”

We handed over our credentials, and were escorted from the building.

Rebecca Noble, another Daily Wildcat photographer who had arrived separately, was greeted at the entrance of the pit with the same response.

Noble caught the exchange on camera:

Among the myriad of local and national media granted access to the event were the Tucson Sentinel, Arizona Daily Star, the Tucson Weekly, Cronkite News and the Arizona Republic. The Daily Wildcat, however, was excluded from the list — the first time we've been barred from a Trump campaign event.  

It does not appear that the Wildcat was singled out by the Trump campaign for the purpose of squelching the media. But for us to get denied, seemingly added back to the list and then tossed out by a separate representative of the campaign shows a lack of caring. We weren't the Republic, NBC or the Daily Star, and therefore weren't worth the time or effort.

If a larger media outlet had been inexplicably denied, Wellner and the communications staff on the ground in Phoenix would have given more effort in figuring out why our names were on one list and not the other, rather than simply escorting us out the back door. 

The speech

Noble and myself were able to later re-enter the venue with the general public, sans press passes, to briefly cover the GOP nominee’s remarks.

After an all-star introduction that included former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and newly-crowned running mate Mike Pence, Trump delivered a “detailed policy speech” in which he elaborated on a 10-point plan to “finally end illegal immigration.”

Here is his plan:

1. "Build the wall."

Note: Though he did not discuss with Nieto his plan for having Mexico pay for the construction of a border wall, he did proclaim, “They don’t know it yet, but they are going to pay for it."

2. End what he referred to as “catch and release,” or the release of a person caught illegally crossing the border before they are deported.

3. Adopt a “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented immigrants with a criminal record and urge Congress to pass Kate’s Law, which would block all undocumented immigrants convicted of illegal reentry from crossing the U.S. border ever again.

4. Block funding for sanctuary cities, “punishing” them for sheltering undocumented immigrants.

5. End President Obama’s executive orders on deportation that allowed millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country for various reasons, including being the parents of children born in the U.S. and obtaining a high school diploma.

6. Stop issuing visas in places where accurate screening cannot occur — i.e. Syria and Libya.

7. Ensure that a deported person is taken back by the country to which they were deported. Trump cited data that said “thousands” of people were released in the U.S. after their respective country had refused them reentry.

8. Complete and implement a biometric entry-exit tracking system at all ports of entry to and from the U.S.

9. Ensure the use of E-Verify in an attempt to block undocumented immigrants access to government benefits.

10. Reform current immigration policies to better protect the U.S. and its workers. He added that after several years when the “threat of illegal immigration is gone,” the country can then decide what to do with the people who are still here.

Alex McIntyre, Brenna Bailey and Scott Felix contributed to the reporting of this story. 


Follow Sam Gross on Twitter.



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