Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Trump Softens Vow to Deport All Illegal Immigrants

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Trump Softens Vow to Deport All Illegal Immigrants

Article excerpt

PHOENIX - Donald Trump is retreating from his vow to deport everyone living in the United States illegally, even as he sticks with an aggressive tone on illegal immigration and remains committed to building a physical wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. The Republican presidential nominee promised Wednesday to remove millions of people living in the United States illegally if elected, warning that failure to do so would jeopardize the "well-being of the American people.

"Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation, Trump said in a highly anticipated speech hours after his surprise meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

But the billionaire New Yorker also said the effort of a proposed immigration task force in a Trump administration would focus on removing criminals and others seen as security threats, as well as people who have overstayed their visas.

Left unanswered by Trump: What would happen to those who have not committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses?

Aimed at ending weeks of confusion over where he stands on immigration, Trump's fiery speech was filled with applause lines for his loyal supporters.

Anyone living in the country illegally who is arrested "for any crime whatsoever, he said, will immediately be placed into deportation proceedings. "There will be no amnesty, he added, saying immigrants in the country without permission who wish to seek legal status must return to their home countries in order to do so.

But there was no direct mention of a core promise of his primary campaign - to create a "deportation force that would remove all of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.

Trump instead repeated the standard Republican talking point that only after securing the border can a discussion begin about all such immigrants, ducking the major question that has frustrated past congressional attempts at remaking immigration laws.

That omission didn't bother Dan Stein, who leads the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that pushes for stricter immigration policies. He called Trump's speech the outline of "a coherent and workable strategy.

"But even more important than the details of the plan itself, Stein said, "Trump laid out the most fundamental principle for true immigration reform: The policy exists to protect and serve the well- being of the American people,' and protect all aspects of American life.'

Critics, meanwhile, said Trump's glossing over the fate of people who are peacefully living in the U.S. without permission doesn't make up for his overall approach.

"It is still the most extreme position of any modern presidential candidate, said Frank Sharry, a leading immigration advocate. "It is deeply unpopular with voters, and profoundly un-American. …

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