“They’ll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes, there’s no amnesty, as such, there’s no amnesty, but we work with them,” Trump said.
Trump claimed that his supporters have urged him to soften his stance on immigration, even though he has staked much of his campaign on his tough stance on immigration and portraying immigrants as “rapists and criminals.”
“When I go through and meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and they’ve said, ‘Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who’s been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it’s so tough, Mr. Trump,’” he told Hannity. “I have it all the time! It’s a very, very hard thing.”
The GOP nominee’s remarks are the latest development in a week dominated by speculation that he is moderating his position on immigration. It began over the weekend, when he met with Hispanic leaders and told them that he was open to legalization for undocumented immigrants.
It’s difficult to square these new remarks with the Trump who, throughout the GOP primaries, called for “rounding up” and deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants and their families.
“They’re gonna have to go out,” he said at a debate in November. “We have no choice if we’re going to run our country properly.”
Yet his new proposal resembles the positions of several of his primary opponents — whom he frequently criticized for being too soft on immigration.
On Wednesday, the campaigns of his former rivals were quick to point this out.
The continual problem with understanding Trump’s position on immigration ― or any of his policies, for that matter ― is how often he contradicts himself and how vaguely he speaks about it.
For most of his campaign thus far, his immigration plan has boiled down to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and “rounding up” all undocumented immigrants.
Only recently have he and his campaign even begun to specify what a Trump immigration plan might look like. On Tuesday, a Trump aide told The Huffington Post that the GOP nominee never meant mass deportations but instead wants to enforce existing immigration laws and focus on getting rid of undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds.
Trump again referred to this group in his town hall with Hannity, calling them “the bad ones.”
But while he and his campaign have signaled a “softening” on immigration, they have also denied it and left it open to interpretation. Because of this, and his penchant to change his mind, it’s hard to take this latest shift at face value.