Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he’s open to a “softening” of laws affecting undocumented immigrants, further distancing himself from his previous hardline proposals.
Trump’s latest explanation of his immigration views came during a town hall with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who asked the nominee, “Is there any part of the law that you might be able to change that would accommodate those people that contribute to society, have been law-abiding, have kids here? … Would there be any rule in your mind?”
“There certainly can be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people,” Trump replied, according to reporters who saw video of the town hall. “We want people — we have some great people in this country.”
But Trump also told Hannity that he’s not backing off some of his more controversial proposals, including a plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It’s going to happen, 100 percent,” Trump said.
Donald Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, echoed the apparent softening on immigration. In an interview with CBS’s Major Garrett, Pence said that the wall will be built, but details about Trump’s plan “will continue to be worked out in the days ahead.”
Trump has appeared to wobble on his most incendiary immigration proposals since his campaign shakeup last week that included the promotion of Kellyanne Conway, a respected Republican pollster, as his campaign manager.
BuzzFeed reported on Saturday that Trump had told Hispanic leaders that he had indicated an openness to legalization for undocumented immigrants — a report that Trump’s campaign pushed back on — and Conway on Sunday said Trump’s plan for a mass deportation force was “to be determined.”
Trump was also due to give a major immigration speech on Thursday in Colorado, but that event was scrapped without explanation.
During the town hall on Tuesday, Trump offered a few more clues about his latest thinking on the issue that has fueled much of his campaign, mentioning the idea of having a “merit system” for immigrants.
He also said more has to be done about the people who have spent “years and years” in line waiting to become citizens.
“They’re great people in some cases, and I guess in some cases, maybe not,” he said. “But you have really great people wanting and so proudly wanting to come into our country and now what you’re doing is you take people away from that line.”