In a major speech on Wednesday, Donald Trump repeated most of his already-known stance on undocumented immigrants, but left unclear his plans for those already here.
He had earlier threatened to deport undocumented immigrants, estimated at 11 million, but sought to move away from it in recent days, saying he is “softening”. He didn’t go there at all in his speech, wary perhaps of upsetting his support base.
Trump said there will be no amnesty for those staying illegally: “they will have one route and one route only. To return home and apply for re-entry”.
He did speak of deportation but only in the context of illegal immigrants found involved in criminal activities. “Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone,” he said. “And you can call it deported if you want. The press doesn’t like that term. You can call it whatever the hell you want. They’re gone.”
Trump did mention his campaign’s signature promise — of a wall along the border with Mexico, which, he insisted, will be paid “100%” by the Mexican government.
Reprising the dark and brooding vision of America that reminded some people of his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, Trump repeated his promise of “extreme vetting” and said a list will be developed of “regions and countries from which immigration must be suspended until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put in place”.
The nominee also spoke at about this intention to introduce “ideological certification”, under which applicants “will be asked their views about honour killings, about respect for women and gays and minorities. Attitudes on radical Islam, which our President refuses to say and many other topics as part of this vetting procedure.”