Trump softens stance on deporting illegal immigrants
Published 25/08/2016 | 02:30
Donald Trump is backing away from his call for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, and even some of his rally-going supporters say they're fine with it.
If he wins the November election, the Republican presidential nominee said on Monday, he would do "the same thing" as President Barack Obama in prioritising the removal of criminals residing in the US illegally, but "perhaps with a lot more energy".
Trump appears to be heeding allies' longstanding advice to soften his stance on deportations, which they worry is toxic to Hispanic voters, now that he faces Democrat Hillary Clinton - and troubling poll numbers - in a general election fewer than 80 days away.
His move raised the hackles of some conservatives who see it as a step toward amnesty, but it's not clear his bid to broaden support will cost him many core supporters. "We're going to obey the existing laws. Now, the existing laws are very strong," Trump said on Fox News.
"The first thing we're going to do, if and when I win, is we're going to 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."
"As far as everybody else, we're going to go through the process," he said.
"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 going to do the same thing."
In a town hall-style event hosted by Fox News on Tuesday, Trump was asked if there were parts of the law he'd change to accommodate law-abiding undocumented immigrants. "There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people," he said.
He didn't indicate openness to considering legal status for those people, however, and reiterated that he intends to follow the law, which requires removing them from the country.
Some Trump supporters at his Akron rally said they understood why he's changing his position.
"You do one thing in a primary to get our core people, it's just American politics," said Tom Zawistowski (62), an Akron Republican in the telecommunications business.
But it's clear that "the American people have said we want something done with the illegals," Zawistowski said. "If you break the law, there should be consequences."
"It's a waste of resources" to try to deport millions of people, said Erik Schramm (21), a full-time student at Kent State University who voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich in the presidential primary and supports Trump now.
"If he wants to back down on things that are over the top, and say, 'Hey, I'll work with everybody a little bit' when it comes to his policies, I think he's trying to do that."