Trump Vows 'Fair, But Firm' Approach to Illegal Immigration | NECN
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

Full coverage of the race for the White House

Trump Vows 'Fair, But Firm' Approach to Illegal Immigration

Trump had been scheduled to deliver a speech on the topic Thursday in Colorado, but it has been postponed



    GOP nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, on Aug. 20, 2016, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

    Republican Donald Trump promised Monday to be "fair, but firm" toward the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, a shift in tone that raised questions on whether he's backtracking from previous pledges to push for mass deportations. 

    The billionaire businessman, whose hard-line approach to immigration and fierce rhetoric propelled him to the GOP presidential nomination, insisted that he's not "flip-flopping" on the divisive issue as he works to broaden his support two-and-a-half months before the general election.

    But in a meeting with Hispanic activists Saturday, Trump indicated he was open to considering allowing those who have not committed crimes, beyond their immigration offenses, to obtain some form of legal status — though attendees stressed Trump has yet to make up his mind.

    "The impression I got was that the campaign is working on substantive policy to help the undocumented that are here, including some type of status so they would not be deported," said Pastor Mario Bramnick, president of the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition, who was in attendance.

    Trump Will Honor Election Results 'If I Win'

    [NATL] Trump Will Honor Presidential Election Results 'If I Win'
    Speaking at a rally in Ohio on Oct. 20, 2016, Donald Trump said that he would accept the presidential election results if they were in his favor. "I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all the people of the United Staes that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election -- if I win,” Donald Trump said, emphasizing the last three words by pointing into the crowd. The rally was held the day following the final debate, during which the issue of whether he would accept the election results came up. At the debate, he said he would have to wait and see what the results were. (Published Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016)

    Any walk-back would mark a dramatic reversal for Trump. During the GOP primary, Trump vowed to use a "deportation force" to round up and deport the millions of people living in the country illegally — a proposal that excited many of his core supporters, but alienated Hispanic voters who could be pivotal in key states.

    Trump said in an interview with "Fox & Friends" on Monday that he was "working with a lot of people in the Hispanic community to try and come up with an answer."

    "We want to come up with a really fair, but firm answer. It has to be very firm. But we want to come up with something fair," he said.

    Later, he told Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, "I just want to follow the law."

    Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    "The first thing we're gonna do, if and when I win, is we're gonna get rid of all of the bad ones. We've got gang members, we have killers, we have a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country. We're gonna get them out," he said.

    "As far as everybody else, we're going to go through the process," he said, citing the policies of President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush as examples.

    Asked whether Trump's plan still included a deportation force, his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said Sunday it was "to be determined."

    "Even Sen. Jeff Sessions," a hard-liner on immigration, "he doesn't deport 11 million people in his plan," Conway said on CNBC Monday.

    Trump: US Election Result Will Be 'Brexit Times Five'

    [NATL-PHI] Trump Rallies Voters in Bucks County
    Pennsylvania suburbs have become pivotal to both presidential candidates to win the election. NBC10's Aundrea Cline-Thomas has more from Donald Trump's rally in Bucks County. (Published Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016)

    Trump had been scheduled to deliver a speech on the topic Thursday in Colorado, but has postponed it.

    There have been signs for weeks now that Trump was shifting course. Hispanic business and religious leaders who would like to see Trump move in a more inclusive direction have reported closed-door conversations with Trump in which they say he has signaled possibly embracing a less punitive immigration policy that focuses on "compassion" along with the rule of law.

    At last month's GOP convention, the Republican National Committee's director of Hispanic communications, Helen Aguirre Ferre, told reporters at a Spanish-language briefing that Trump had already said he "will not do massive deportations" — despite the fact that Trump had never said so publicly.

    Instead, Aguirre Ferre said, "he will focus on removing the violent undocumented who have criminal records and live in the country."

    Trump, Clinton Trade Insults at Dinner

    [NATL-NY] Trump, Clinton Trade Insults at Dinner
    Bitter presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had one more face-to-face showdown before Election Day. They tried to make it funny but plenty of the jokes bombed, and some even earned scattered boos. Watch each of the candidates' roasts in their entirety here. (Published Friday, Oct. 21, 2016)

    Indeed, Trump's first television ad of the general election specifically singles out illegal immigrants with criminal records, claiming that, if Clinton is elected, "Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay."

    Trump's campaign has pushed back on the notion that he's reversing course. "Mr. Trump said nothing today that he hasn't said many times before, including in his convention speech," rapid response director Steven Cheung said after the meeting.

    At a rally in Akron, Ohio, Monday evening, many Trump supporters seemed unfazed by Trump's potential shift.

    "Mr. Trump is a smart man who uses common sense," said Jennifer Carter, a small business owner from Barberton, Ohio. "He knows he can't break up families and round up people on buses to kick them out."

    Fact Check: Trump and Clinton's Debate Claims

    [NATL] Fact Check: Trump and Clinton's Debate Claims
    Donald Trump painted an inaccurately dark portrait of manufacturing in America while Hillary Clinton stretched credulity in boasting that her spending plans won't add to the country's debt. Associated Press writer Chris Rugaber breaks down those claims and more. (Published Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016)

    But Robin Luich, 52, a stay-at-home mother from Medina, Ohio, said those who've broken the law should be permanently barred. "There can be no exceptions. If you are here illegally, you have to stay out." she said.

    When asked how she would feel if Trump softened his stance to allow some illegal immigrants to remain, she said: "That would be a disappointment. That's not what he is supposed to be about."

    Clinton, meanwhile, is spending the next three days fundraising across California. She'll stop by the home of actors Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel in Los Angeles, address donors with NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson in Beverly Hills and join Apple CEO Tim Cook and other business leaders in Silicon Valley.

    But Clinton's email scandal continues to haunt her. In the latest revelations, the State Department said Monday it is reviewing nearly 15,000 previously undisclosed emails. They were recovered as part of the FBI's now-closed investigation into the handling of sensitive information that flowed through Clinton's private home server during her time as secretary of state.

    Candidates Heatedly Discuss Late-Term Abortions at Debate

    [NATL] Candidates Heatedly Discuss Late-Term Abortions at Debate
    Hillary Clinton said Donald Trump was using “scare rhetoric” during an exchange about "late-term, partial-birth" abortion in Wednesday’s presidential debate. After Clinton explained why she had opposed legislation that banned such procedures, Trump said that in that case “you can take baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” (Published Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016)

    Lawyers for the department said they anticipate releasing the first batch of these new emails in mid-October, raising the prospect new messages sent or received by Democratic nominee could become public just before Election Day.