Rumors are swirling that Donald Trump is prepared to reverse his stance on illegal immigration, the cornerstone of his campaign. The Trump campaign began last summer with rhetoric that focused heavily on Mexico and illegal immigration. Trump made his promise of a wall on the Mexican border the centerpiece of his campaign. A Trump immigration flip-flop could shake his base and upend his campaign.
The rumors that Trump is flip-flopping on immigration began Saturday night with a Buzzfeed article. Buzzfeed cited three sources who confirmed that Trump signaled his willingness to soften his immigration stance in a secret meeting in the Trump Tower with the newly formed National Hispanic Advisory Council For Trump. The article stated that Trump did not use the term “legalization,” but had indicated that he was open to a solution to the problem of illegal immigrants “that respects border security but deals with this in a humane and efficient manner.”
Univision also cited three sources, some of which were also named by Buzzfeed. One source cited by both outlets was Jacob Monty, a Texas immigration lawyer. Monty said, “I really liked that Trump acknowledged that there is a big problem with the 11 million [undocumented] people who are here, and that deporting them is neither possible nor humane.” Monty claimed that the new Trump plan “wouldn’t be citizenship but would allow them to be here without fear of deportation.”
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus confirmed to Univision that the meeting took place and that it was part of “our expansive effort to engage the Hispanic community.”
The reports sparked a quick denial from Mr. Trump. I’m not flip flopping,” he told Fox News on the issue Monday. “We want to come up with a fair but firm process. Fair but firm.”
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Trump and new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway were noncommittal on the specifics of the current version of the Trump immigration plan. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Conway replied “to be determined” when asked if Trump still advocated for “a deportation force removing the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants” in the US. Throughout the campaign Trump has been an immigration hardliner who called for the deportation of all illegal immigrants.
Univision also cited Helen Aguirre, an RNC spokeswoman who was present at the meeting. Aguirre confirmed that the Trump campaign was working on a new plan. “Trump was very categorical in saying that he’s seeking a fair immigration reform,” she said. “He wants to listen to everyone and announce his conclusions in the coming days.”
By Sunday, Aguirre was reversing herself in a Breitbart piece. “Some folks talked about legalization, not citizenship, for the undocumented,” she said. “Mr. Trump did not say he was in favor of legalization. Some folks may have felt that he was open to it–and he gave zero indication of that.”
Aguirre told the Washington Post, “He listened to the comments and suggestions made by the various board members, but he never indicated what his immigration policy would be.”
Nevertheless, the comments by Aguirre and Conway confirmed that Trump’s immigration policy is changing. Conway said that “as the weeks unfold” Trump will reveal his new immigration plan. He is expected to address the topic this Thursday in Colorado.
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