Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump ruled out a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants in the US.
However, the Manhattan real-estate mogul has declined to clarify whether he would still forcibly deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US — a major tenet of his immigration platform — after he suggested earlier this week that he was “softening” on the idea and also made a series of comments that indicated a path to legalisation was likely as long as they paid taxes accumulated from their time living here illegally.
“There’s no path to legalisation unless they leave the country,” CNN quoted Trump as saying after an event in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday.
“When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalisation unless they leave the country and then come back.”
Trump said that on his first day in office, he would authorise law enforcement to actively deport “bad dudes,” such as those who have committed crimes, which he said numbered “probably millions”, CNN reported.
But he declined to flatly say whether he would round up other undocumented immigrants, stressing that once the initial deportations occur, “then we can talk”.
“There is a very good chance the answer could be yes,” Trump said when asked if he would deport those who have lived here peacefully but without papers. “We’re going to see what happens.”
Trump’s comments are the latest turn in a now-daily recalibration of his position on immigration, which Trump said he would crystallise in a speech next week, CNN noted.
Clinton’s campaign called Trump’s plan “dangerous” in a statement Thursday night.
“He may try to disguise his plans by throwing in words like ‘humane’ or ‘fair’, but the reality remains that Trump’s agenda echoes the extreme right’s will — one that is fueling a dangerous movement of hatred across the country,” CNN reported citing Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri as saying.