Donald Trump on Thursday night insisted on CNN that his recent comments about immigration reflect a “hardening” of his stance, but the Republican nominee refused to directly answer questions about his position on deportation.
“I don’t think it’s a softening,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper when the host noted that Trump actually said there could be a “softening” of his policy on deportation. “I’ve had people say it’s a hardening, actually.”
Throughout the interview, Cooper attempted to clarify Trump’s stance on deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, but with no success.
When he first asked Trump if he had a change of heart about deporting all undocumented immigrants, Trump launched into a rant about building a wall and said that he will give more details on his plan in a week. In addition to building a “great wall,” Trump said he’ll use “tunnel technology” and “all sorts of e-verify.”
Trump reiterated that he will deport the “bad” undocumented immigrants, but suggested that he doesn’t have much of a plan beyond that.
“After that, we’re going to see what happens,” he said.
Trump dodged the question again when Cooper asked if there would be a path to legalization.
“You know it’s a process? You can’t take 11 at one time and just say, ‘Boom, you’re gone.’ We have to find where these people are,” Trump said in response.
Later, when Cooper asked Trump the question again, Trump gave a slightly more concrete answer.
“There’s no path to legalization unless people leave the country,” Trump said. “When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and come back.”
Cooper tried to clarify whether Trump will deport undocumented immigrants who have not committed a crime.
“We’re going to see what happens when we strengthen up our border.” Trump replied. “But there is a very good chance the answer could be yes. We’re going to see what happens.”
At one point, Cooper pointed out to Trump that his comments reflect former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s immigration policy, noting that Bush was mocked for saying the U.S. cannot deport all undocumented immigrants.
“I don’t know anything about Jeb Bush. He wasn’t building a wall,” Trump said. He later added that he wants “to see what’s going to happen” and that he will “deport many people.”
Watch part of the interview via CNN: