Trump Plans Detailed Immigration Speech08/29 06:24
Donald Trump says he'll deliver a detailed speech on his proposal to crack
down on illegal immigration on Wednesday in Arizona -- but it's anyone's guess
what he might say.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump says he'll deliver a detailed speech on his
proposal to crack down on illegal immigration on Wednesday in Arizona --- but
it's anyone's guess what he might say.
The announcement came late Sunday in a tweet by the GOP presidential nominee
after days of wavering --- and at least one canceled speech --- on a question
central to his campaign: Whether he would, as he said in November, use a
"deportation force" to eject the estimated 11 million people in the U.S.
illegally. On Sunday, led by vice presidential running mate Mike Pence, Trump's
surrogates fanned out across the televised talk shows to reiterate other parts
of his proposal but none could answer that question. And they wouldn't say
whether it was worrisome that such a consequential proposal remained unclear so
close to the Nov. 8 election.
In one case, the chairman of the Republican National Committee refused to
speak for the GOP nominee at all.
"I just don't speak for Donald Trump," Reince Priebus said Sunday.
It was a striking look at Trump's leadership of a team he had said would
help drive him to victory against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The very purpose of surrogates is to speak for and back up their
presidential nominee. But Trump's stand-ins struggled to do so even as they
stayed tightly together on the details they know: Trump will issue more details
on the immigration plan soon, the policy will be humane, and despite his clear
wavering, he's been "consistent" on the issue. Any discussion of
inconsistencies or potentially non-presidential tweeting, Pence and others
suggested, reflected media focus on the wrong issue.
Trump's tweet Sunday suggested he was poised to clear up those questions.
Trump's campaign also announced on Sunday a $10 million-plus buy for ads to
air in nine competitive states starting Monday. And late Sunday, the nation's
only African-American owned and operated national Christian television network
announced that its president and CEO, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, would interview
the Republican nominee in Detroit on Sept. 3.
It's been a long and sometimes puzzling journey to this point for the GOP
nominee, who defeated 16 Republican opponents while promising to be the
toughest on illegal immigration. Trump even questioned whether people born in
the United States to people here illegally are citizens --- even though they
have automatically been considered citizens since the adoption of the 14th
Amendment in 1868.
But lately, he's been exploring the issue's complexities in public.
On Fox News Channel's "Hannity" show, he discussed how hard it is to break
up families. He suggested that maybe people who've been in this country for
years should be allowed to stay if they pay back taxes. He insisted that such a
plan would not amount to the "amnesty" that's anathema to many core supporters
of the Republican Party.
Trump in recent days has suggested he might be "softening" on the
deportation force and that he might be open to allowing at least some
immigrants in the country illegally to stay, as long as they pay taxes.
But by Thursday, he was ruling out any kind of legal status --- "unless they
leave the country and come back," he told CNN.
Trump has focused lately on deporting people who are in the U.S. illegally
and who have committed crimes. But who Trump considers a criminal remained
"Those are the things that Donald Trump is going to answer. And this is not
a simple question," said Priebus, who's had a difficult relationship with Trump.
The speech has been rescheduled at least once. Trump's campaign had
scheduled it for last Thursday, then canceled it. The campaign also blamed
staff error for reports that it had been scheduled for August 31 in Phoenix.
But Trump's tweet late Sunday made clear that the event is back on.
But it's far from clear what he'll say, apparently even to his top
Asked whether the "deportation force" proposal Trump laid out in November is
still in place, Pence replied: "Well, what you heard him describe there, in his
usual plainspoken, American way, was a mechanism, not a policy."
Added Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway: "The softening is more
approach than policy," adding that on immigration, Trump "wants to find a fair
and humane way."
Pence, Conway and other surrogates said the main tenets of Trump's
immigration plan still will include building a wall along the southern U.S.
border and making Mexico pay for it, no path to legalization or citizenship for
people here illegally and stronger border enforcement. Pence also did not
answer whether the campaign believes, as Trump has said, that children born to
people who are in the U.S. illegally are not U.S. citizens. That, he said, "is
a subject for the future."
Pence appeared on CNN's "State of the Union," Priebus was on NBC's "Meet the
Press," and Conway was on "Fox News Sunday" and CBS' "Face the Nation."