After months of tough talk about illegal immigration on the campaign trail, Donald Trump on Tuesday floated the idea of a major change on that politically explosive issue, as Trump made clear he was open to the idea of allowing some of those in the U.S. illegally to avoid deportation, remain in the country, and gain a legal status.
In an interview with Sean Hannity that was taped on Tuesday in Texas, Trump moved away from the idea of deporting the millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, instead saying that only the “bad” ones would be sent out – leaving the door open to a possible path to citizenship or legal status for others.
“There certainly can be a softening, because we’re not looking to hurt people,” Trump said to Hannity.
Trump’s comments were just part of what’s been a several day effort on immigration, starting with a meeting Trump held on Saturday with Hispanic leaders, all of which seem to be taking him more to the center on that issue.
The apparent change from Trump angered conservatives, some of whom have been suspicious about Trump’s big talk on illegal immigration from the start.
“Hey Mexico, we won’t be needing that wall!” tweeted Rick Tyler, the former campaign spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz. “Trump’s going to make Amnesty Great Again!”
“Donald Trump’s new tone on immigration is AMNESTY,” Tyler said on Twitter.
At a rally in Austin, Texas on Tuesday night, Trump made no mention of any change on immigration, instead taking Hillary Clinton to task repeatedly on the issue.
“Hillary Clinton wants a totally open border,” Trump said to boos at his rally, as he zeroed in on her immigration policy choices repeatedly.
“She wants catch and release,” said Trump, referring to the long standing practice where border patrol agents would detain illegal immigrants, but then soon release them in the United States.
“She is going to give a massive amnesty in her first 100 days,” Trump said – though he pointedly did not go into what his own choices might be on what to do with millions of people who are already in the U.S. illegally.
Trump once again used his Austin rally to repeatedly go out of his way to appeal for the support for black Americans.
“We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton,” Trump said as he charged that Clinton “sees communities of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future.”