Donald Trump on Monday brushed away suggestions that he’s trying to walk back his hardline stance on immigration, even as senior campaign staffers said that he may not stick to his campaign promise to forcibly deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
“I’m not flip-flopping,” Trump insisted in a phone call on Fox News. “We want to come one a really fair, but firm process. Fair but firm.”
The Republican nominee met with a Hispanic advisory council in New York on Saturday, where Buzzfeed News reported that Trump promised a “humane and efficient” way to work with those living in the U.S. without papers. The report suggested that Trump may make an effort to grant undocumented immigrants legal status and allow them to remain in the country.
During the primaries, Trump often spoke of his plan to use “really good management” to employ a deportation force to “humanely” remove 11 million undocumented immigrants in the first two years of his administration. Republicans on Capitol Hill, even those who supported Trump’s bid, criticized mass deportation as unrealistic, exorbitantly expensive and unconstitutional.
Asked Sunday on CNN if that was still the Republican nominee’s plan, newly-promoted campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said, “To be determined.”
Conway insisted that Trump made no overtures towards legalizing undocumented immigrants during his Saturday meeting.
“What he supports is to make sure we enforce the law, that we are respectful of those Americans who are looking for jobs, and that we are fair and humane to those who live among us,” she said.
Trump’s other signature immigration proposals include having Mexico pay for a new border wall along the southern border of the U.S. and cutting off remittances to Central America sent by immigrants living here.