‘Major speech’ on illegal immigration set for Wednesday
Donald Trump’s top allies and strategists are seeking to further distance him from his call last year for a “deportation force” to expel the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
Donald Trump’s top allies and strategists sought on Sunday to further distance the presidential hopeful from his call last year for a “deportation force” to expel the nation’s estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. But they left a key question unanswered: what Trump would do with the immigrants in the U.S. illegally who have not committed other crimes in the country.
The question has taken on increased relevance in recent days as Trump has appeared to soften the hard- l i ne position he adopted during the Republican primary campaign as he looks to boost his appeal among moderate voters in the general election.
Speaking on the Sunday morning news shows, Trump’s supporters didn’t address the matter definitively. But Trump signaled late Sunday that policy specifics could be on the way, posting on Twitter that he’d be making a “major speech” on illegal immigration on Wednesday in Arizona. The speech had been set for last week in Colorado, but it was pushed back as Trump and his team wrestled over the details of his proposal.
On Sunday, the Trump allies also fielded questions about his new campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, who has come under scrutiny over his voter registration status and revelations that his ex-wife had accused him of anti-Semitic views and that he was charged with domestic violence but not convicted. In interviews, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway seemed to keep some distance between themselves and Ban- non.
On immigration, Conway said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump has not recently advocated a mass deportation force. “The deportation force, I would like to address that. He hasn’t mentioned that since last November,” she said.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the idea of a deportation force was a “mechanism, not a policy” and that Trump has remained “completely consistent” on immigration.
Neither would definitively say what Trump would do with immigrants who have not committed any crimes since entering the country illegally.
“And what he’s said now is that he will look at that. But he wants to look — the softening is more approach than policy,” Conway said when asked about whether he will deport all immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
Pence said: “I know the media wants to focus on that one issue. Donald Trump will articulate a policy about how we deal with that population.”
In the past week, Trump has seemed open to not deporting immigrants in the U.S. illegally who don’t have criminal records. But he has not made his position on that issue explicit.
What Trump has made clear in recent days is that he would deport immigrants in the country illegally who have committed certain crimes. He has also said that he would not create a path to legal status or citizenship for the immigrants and that they would have to leave the U.S. and return in a lawful way to achieve legal status.
Another issue on which Trump’s position has drawn scrutiny: birthright citizenship, which he vowed to end last year and continues on his campaign website to advocate ending.
Pence gave a less-thandefinitive response to a question on that matter.
“Well, I think the whole question of anchor babies, as it’s known, the whole question of citizenship, of natural-born Americans is a subject for the future,” he said. “I think the American people ought to ask it.”
Spokespeople for Trump did not respond to a request for comment on his current view on birthright citizenship.
Priebus said that, on the whole, Trump would lay out a plan that would be tougher than Jeb Bush’s and than the “Gang of Eight” comprehensive proposal that passed the Senate in 2013 but died in the House.
Pressed on whether Trump will call for an end to birthright citizenship, the RNC chairman said, “You’re going to have to ask him.” As for himself, Priebus said he is “comfortable” with birthright citizenship continuing to be the law.
Asked about Bannon and Conway, Priebus responded, “I go with the flow based on what the campaign wants to do. I think Kellyanne’s doing a phenomenal job. I don’t know Steve Bannon, to tell you the truth, very well. I’m going to get to know him.”
Pressed on what has been alleged about Bannon’s background, Priebus responded, “I don’t know how much of it is true or not.”
A spokeswoman for Bannon denied last week that he made the anti-Semitic remarks that his ex-wife accused him of in a court statement.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made clear in recent days that he would deport immigrants in the U.S. illegally who have committed certain crimes.