Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks in New York on Sept. 15. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Donald Trump’s immigration policy originally was intended as protection for the working man and woman from the scourge of illegal immigration. Then it became about not letting Muslims — subsequently changed to not letting people from countries where there is Islamic terrorism (Would France and Israel be included?) — get into the United States without “extreme vetting.” It soon became apparent he wanted to squelch legal immigration as well. And yesterday he let slip out that this is not about jobs at all.

He declared on Wednesday, “Think of that. Not only the danger of it all, this isn’t only a matter of terrorism, but also a matter of quality of life. We want to make sure we’re only admitting those into our country who support our values and love — and I mean love — our people.”

Hmm. Would that include people like himself who think “America doesn’t win anymore” and is a nation whose generals have been reduced to “rubble”? What about people who think African Americans’ lives are a “disaster”? What about devout, peaceful Muslims who don’t think their wives should work — as Trump himself has said?

It is hard to imagine what he is talking about if not a scheme to keep out people he deems “undesirable” because of religion, ethnicity or other classification. This goes beyond job protection (even that is a ruse, as we have explained) or, as he confessed, terrorism. This is a play to angry whites who think the country is changing because there are more and more people who don’t think or look like them. Guess what? It is — and the United States has been in constant flux since it started because neither race nor class nor political outlook makes one an American.

It’s not complicated.  In the 18th century, they put it this way: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In the 21st century we talk about the promise that anyone, regardless of where he or she came from or who his parents are, can pursue his or her God-given talents as far as they can go. It may drive Trump and his alt-white followers nuts, but that means a nationalized Muslim American from Pakistan and the child born in this country whose parents came from Mexico illegally are every bit as American as the angry white men who think “their” country has been lost. Hint: It was never the province of one gender, race or religion so they need to adjust to reality.

Trump was not content to leave it at that. He also at one point Wednesday declared, “American hands will rebuild our nation. Not the hands of people from other nations.” Let’s count the ways this is idiotic:

  • Other than Native Americans, this country has always been built by people who came from other countries or whose ancestors came from other countries to America.
  • Trump’s 1st and 3rd wives were not born here.
  • Trump’s mother wasn’t born here.
  • The men and women who build his buildings and work at his properties include many people not born here. In fact, it turns out some of them were here illegally. As for the legal immigrants, he complains he cannot get summer labor at Mar-a-Lago so he imports foreigners.

The “hands of people from other nations” comment is in one sense the most revealing thing he has said to date. He wants to keep out foreigners not because they are “taking” jobs or coming to kill us but because they are foreign. Period. That’s in essence what he is all about — making those who feel they’ve lost the top perch in American society (white Christian, working-class males primarily) feel superior and protected from “outsiders.” It’s naked xenophobia, or just plain old racism if you want to be blunt. That is what — from birtherism to his indecipherable immigration plan — his campaign is all about. And Hillary Clinton was right: The whole thing is deplorable.