After pushback over the “softening” of his position on deporting the 11+ million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S., Donald Trump has returned to something closer to his original hardline position. Sort of.
Speaking on CNN’s AC 360 on Thursday, Trump insisted that there would be “no path to legalization” unless illegals “leave the country and come back.” But when pressed on what exactly he plans to do about the illegal immigrants who “haven’t committed a crime,” have been here for several years, and have a family, Trump said,”We’re going to see what happens…”
Trump told host Anderson Cooper that he was going to go into more depth about his immigration policy in about a week, when he gives his big immigration speech, but he did offer a few thoughts on the issue. His first priority, he said, is to deport criminal illegal immigrants and secure the border. After that, things got a bit fuzzy.
“You can’t take 11 [million people] at one time and just say, boom, you’re gone,” he said. “We have to find where these people are. Most people don’t even know where they are. Nobody even knows if it’s 11 [million].”
Maintaining that his new position was not a “softening” but a “hardening, Trump told Cooper that there’d be “no path” to legalization.
“No, there’s not a path,” he said. “There is no path to legalization, unless people leave the country — well, when they come back in, if they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization, unless they leave the country and come back.”
Using similar language as he did in his immigration speech earlier in the week, Trump suggested he was simply going to use “existing laws” which are resulting in “millions of people” being deported every year, but said he would use them “vigorously.”
Pressed on whether he would deport illegals who have been here for “15 years” and “have families,” Trump hedged.
“We’re going to see what happens once we strengthen our border,” he said, adding that “there is a very good chance the answer could be yes, we’re going to see what happens.”
Trump went on to stress that it was “very unfair” for illegal immigrants to jump in line over legal immigrants.
Trump’s “pivot” on immigration has resulted in some strong backlash from a few supporters, including Ann Coulter, who has spent most of the week chastising him for having “panicked” over his struggling poll numbers. But most of Trump fans have brushed off the “softening” as “realistic.”