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Trump backtracks on immigrant deportation plans

August 25, 2016

Donald Trump has apparently modified his pledge to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US. Attacks on Hillary Clinton continued unabated, however, with Trump calling his opponent a 'bigot.'

USA Präsidentschaftswahlkampf Donald Trump in Ohio
Image: Reuters/C. Allegri

In a Fox News interview taped Tuesday, Trump says there would be "no citizenship" for those immigrants. "They'll pay back taxes," Trump said, adding, "There's no amnesty, but we work with them."

He talked about how hard it would be to deport people who have lived in the country for decades and raised a family.

Trump trails Hillary Clinton in opinion polls as well as in many battleground states where the election will be decided.

After a campaign shake-up last week, he has made more urgent attempts to appeal to moderate voters and minority groups who have been disenchanted by his rhetoric.

Trump is expected to unveil his new immigration policy next week. Aides have suggested he'll back away from his deportation plan to one closer to what many of his Republican rivals for the nomination favored.

To qualify to remain in the US, Trump said, illegal immigrants would have to pay back taxes. "No citizenship. Let me go a step further: They'll pay back taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such. There's no amnesty, but we work with them," Trump in an interview with Fox aired on Wednesday.

"But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me ... and they've said: 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,'" Trump said. "It's a very hard thing."

Trump said he would outline his position soon.

Not all change

Trump has retained much of his immigration agenda. He still wants to build a wall along the US southern border with Mexico, but he has emphasized in recent days a need to deal most urgently with illegal immigrants who commit crimes and also those who might be displacing African-American and Hispanic workers.

Republicans lash out at Trump

Reaching out?

Trump also promised Hispanics "a much better life" in a Florida speech that continued his recent effort to soften his tone and broaden his support 11 weeks before the presidential election.

Trump had urged African-Americans and Hispanics living in inner cities to give him a chance.

Speaking in Tampa, Florida, Trump said that Democratic policies have only led to more poverty, crime, and joblessness in cities like Chicago and Baltimore.

He said: "To those suffering, I say, vote for Donald Trump," asking once again what they have to lose.

Trump says that if he's elected, he'll make sure everyone can walk down the street without being shot.

And he is telling Hispanics, "I want you to join the ranks of people who are making phenomenal livings."

"I think we're going to do great with African-Americans and with the Hispanics," he said, despite polls showing the minority voters overwhelmingly favoring rival Hillary Clinton.

The Republican presidential candidate also repeated his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out immigrants, underscoring the tricky balancing act he faces in retaining backing from conservatives while beckoning to moderates for their votes.

"I am going to fight to give every Hispanic citizen a much better future, a much better life," Trump told a rally in Tampa as polls show him trailing in the critical state. "You have the right to walk outside without being shot. You have a right to a good education for your child. You have the right to own your home. You have the right to have a good job."

Trump suggested that Hispanics have been taken for granted by Democrats. He said the 600,000 Latino-owned businesses in Florida would benefit under his economic plan, but he offered few specifics.

"Hispanics are tired of being used by these phony politicians," Trump roared above the rumbles of a thunderstorm audible inside. "I say, what do you have to lose? I will fix it."

He said of his Democratic opponent, "Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future."

Großbritannien Nigel Farage Rücktritt
Image: Reuters/N. Hall

Brexit-guru speaks

The British politician Nigel Farage, one of the figureheads of the successful Brexit campaign, also addressed the rally.

Farage lent his support on Wednesday, saying Trump represented the same type of anti-establishment movement that he masterminded in his own country.

Farage partly based his Brexit drive on opposition to mass immigration to Britain that he said was leading to rapid change in his country.

Trump summoned Farage on stage in the middle of his appearance, shook his hand and surrendered the microphone to him.

"I cannot possibly tell you how you should vote in this election. But you know I get it, I get it. I'm hearing you. But I will say this, if I was an American citizen I wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me," Farage said. "In fact, I wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton if she paid me," he added.

"November 8 is our chance to redeclare American independence," Trump said, borrowing a phrase Farage used during the Brexit campaign.

Farage meanwhile drew parallels between the Brexit movement and the support Trump has received from many Americans who feel left behind by Washington.

"They feel people aren't standing up for them and they have in many cases given up on the whole electoral process, and I think you have a fantastic opportunity here with this campaign," he said.

Farage noted that his movement was an underdog in public opinion polls but triumphed in Britain's June 23 referendum. He predicted that Trump, who supported Britain's departure from the EU, would stage a comeback and win in November.

Trump called Farage's appearance an honor and said, "The nation's working people will take control again."

jbh/kl (AP, Reuters)