- Thomson Reuters
Seeking to mitigate concerns that he’d returned to his hardline stance on immigration, Donald Trump on Thursday insisted that he is softening on the issue.
The Republican presidential nominee told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that there’s “really quite a bit of softening” in his position.
“Oh, there’s softening,” he told Ingraham, according to Politico. “Look, we do it in a very humane way, and we’re going to see with the people that are in the country. Obviously I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers out, I want to get the drug dealers out. We’ve got a lot of people in this country that you can’t have, and those people we’ll get out.”
He continued: “We’re going to make a decision at a later date once everything is stabilized. I think you’re going to see there’s really quite a bit of softening.”
Trump laid out his 10-point immigration plan in a speech in Phoenix on Wednesday night. The plan centered on building a massive wall along the US-Mexico border, cutting off funding to so-called sanctuary cities, and providing no “amnesty” to the more than 11 million immigrants thought to be living in the country illegally.
Trump also promised that his administration, should he be elected in November, would triple the number of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, hire 5,000 additional border agents, and, on “day one,” deport anyone associated with criminal activity who does not have permission to be in the country.
The speech served as a hit for Trump’s base of support. Conservative author Ann Coulter, who was recently discouraged by Trump’s “softening” on his immigration policies, was thrilled by his Wednesday-night speech, calling it “the most magnificent speech ever given.”
Some die-hard Trump supporters had criticized Trump in recent weeks for moderating his immigration policies.
He seemed to have abandoned his calls to deport the 11 million immigrants who are living in the US illegally, instead suggesting that he wants to be “fair but firm.” And while Trump said that he wouldn’t support a path to citizenship, last month he proposed “back taxing” some of the millions of immigrants living in the US without permission – a step that would require some form of legalization.
Immigration has been a central issue in Trump’s campaign, and his tough stance on the issue helped him secure the Republican nomination.
Allan Smith contributed to this report.