Donald Trump said on Monday that the US must be “very firm” and “very, very strong” on immigration, but did not repeat his previous calls to deport the 11 million immigrants who are illegally in the country.
“We have to be very firm, we have to be very, very strong when people come in illegally,” Trump said on Fox News. “We have a lot of people that want to come in through the legal process. It’s not fair for them.”
The comments came just days after BuzzFeed detailed a closed-door meeting between Trump and his new Hispanic advisory team, in which the real-estate magnate appeared open to modifying some of his stricter immigration proposals — such as the deportation force.
Trump said his campaign is “working with a lot of people in the Hispanic community to try and come up with an answer” on the issue.
When pressed by co-host Steve Doocy on whether he was changing his position on the issue, Trump said he wasn’t.
“I’m not flip-flopping,” Trump said. “We want to come up with a really fair, but firm answer.”
Despite his denials of flip-flopping, this new rhetoric differs significantly from what Trump said during the primaries. His campaign now seems to be making a pivot toward the center on a main issue of his campaign.
Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, suggested in a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the candidate’s proposed deportation force, which would forcibly remove the approximately 11 million immigrants living in the US without permission, may be off the table.
“What he supports is to make sure we enforce the law, that we are respectful of those Americans who are looking for well paying jobs, and that we are fair and humane for those who live among us in this country,” Conway said.
Maxwell Tani contributed to this report.
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