During a series of interviews Monday evening, Donald Trump appeared to reverse his mass deportation policy, saying that he will do the “same thing” as President Obama regarding deportation but “perhaps with a lot more energy.”
He told the Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that he plans on following existing immigration law and focusing deportation efforts on “the bad ones.” His comments Monday evening appear to be a reversal from harsher comments he made earlier in the campaign season. Reports over the weekend indicated that Trump would soften his stance on immigration, and the Republican nominee cancelled an immigration speech planned for Thursday. But on Monday morning, Trump had insisted he was “not flip-flopping” on immigration.
O’Reilly asked Trump if he is changing his policy on mass deportation.
“I just want to follow the law,” Trump replied before mentioning his weekend meeting with Hispanic leaders. Reports out of that meeting suggested that Trump would change his policy on deportation, and Trump said those reports were wrong.
But the Republican nominee then offered a softer stance on deportation, and he even suggested he would proceed in a manner similar to that of President Obama.
“We’re going to obey the existing laws. Now, the existing laws are very strong. The existing laws, 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,” he said on Fox News. “As far as everybody else, we’re going to go through the process. What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country, Bush the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m gonna do the same thing.”
O’Reilly then mentioned detention centers, prompting Trump to quickly shoot down the idea of keeping undocumented immigrants in detention centers.
“You don’t have to put them in a detention center,” Trump said.
“I never even heard the term. I’m not gonna put them in a detention center,” he added. “We want to do it in a very humane manner.”
The Fox host also brought up Dwight Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback,” through which the former president deported hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants and dropped them off in remote areas of Mexico in the 1950s. Trump had cited this effort earlier in the campaign, but disagreed with O’Reilly’s assessment on Monday that Trump planned to “emulate” Eisenhower’s model.
“I said that it’s something that has been done at a very strong manner. I don’t agree with that. I’m not talking about detention centers. I have very, very good relationships with a lot of people, a lot of Hispanic people. We’re talking about it. We are going to get rid of the bad ones. The bad ones are going to be out of here fast. And you know, there are plenty of bad ones, gang members, gang leaders,” Trump told O’Reilly.
“They are going to be out of here so fast, your head will spin. As far as the rest, we’re going to go through the process, like they are now, perhaps with a lot more energy and we’re gonna do it only through the system of laws that — are in existence,” he continued.
Though Trump appeared to soften his policy on deportation, he reiterated at a Monday night rally in Akron, Ohio, that he still plans on building a wall along the southern border if he is elected president.
“Don’t worry. We’re going to build the wall,” Trump told the crowd. “That wall will go up so fast, your head will spin. And you’ll say, ‘You know, he meant it.’ And you know what else I mean? Mexico is going to pay for the wall.”
And when asked if he is softening his stance on immigration during a Monday night interview with Cleveland television station WEWS, Trump said he was focused on “security” and touted his plan to build a border wall.
“We are suggesting safety. We are suggesting security. We don’t want people killed at the border We don’t want people coming into our country that shouldn’t be here. I want people to come into our country, but I want them to come in through a legal process,” he said. “We’re gonna have a wall. The wall is necessary.”
Trump them brought up addiction and said that drugs are coming into country “through largely the southern border.”
“So I feel very, very strongly about immigration and having a stronger border. And if we don’t have a strong border, we don’t have a country,” he said.