Aides to Donald Trump suggested Sunday that the Republican presidential nominee may be reconsidering his campaign promise to round up and deport 11 million people who are in the United States illegally.
His new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if Trump still wants a “deportation force” to remove everyone in the country illegally.
“To be determined,” she said.
Trump is “wrestling” with how to remove those in the country illegally, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., an adviser to Trump on immigration matters, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The aides’ comments appeared to be the latest sign that Trump’s newly installed management team may be trying to broaden his appeal to stem his steady fall in the polls with less than three months until Election Day.
Trump has never explained how he intended to find, detain and deport millions of people, many of whom have built businesses and started families in the U.S., or how he would pay for it even if it passed judicial scrutiny.
He has compared his proposal to “Operation Wetback,” a controversial program carried out in 1954 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. More than 1 million people were apprehended, mostly from border areas in Texas and California, and sent back to Mexico.
Any easing of Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration — which also includes building a wall along the border with Mexico and temporarily banning Muslim immigrants — could alienate some of his most ardent supporters. After a year of using harsh rhetoric against Latinos, such as calling Mexican migrants rapists and repeatedly attacking a federal judge as unfair because his family was from Mexico, polls show he faces intense opposition among Latinos.
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His campaign thus has moved in recent days to soften his edges and to try to shift attention past the turmoil caused by the shake-up of his top management team last week.
In Charlotte, N.C., Trump announced “regret” that some of his heated comments — he didn’t say which — may have caused personal pain. In Fredericksburg, Va., he said the Republican Party must “do better” to reach out to African American voters. And in New York City on Saturday, Trump told his campaign’s newly named Latino advisory council that he wants to find a “humane and efficient” solution to deal with illegal immigration.
He “did not make a firm commitment” to the group on how deportations would work, Sessions said.
Trump is expected to speak about immigration policy Thursday in Colorado. Conway said he will be more specific on his immigration plan “as the weeks unfold.”
“What he supports is to make sure that we enforce the law, that we are respectful of those Americans who are looking for well-paying jobs and that we are fair and humane for those who live among us in this country,” Conway said.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has called for providing a path to legal status for some of the people in the country illegally.
A bipartisan immigration reform bill that would have boosted border security while providing a path for citizenship passed the Senate in 2013 but died in the Republican-led House.
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