It’s really hard to tell where exactly the Trump campaign stands on immigration. Back in November, Trump promised a deportation force would kick every undocumented immigrant out of the country. But ever since Paul Manafort’s ouster and Kellyanne Conway‘s promotion to campaign manager, there’s been consistent talk of “softening” rhetoric and policy regarding deportation — so much so that an enraged Ann Coulter threatened to cancel her book tour.
Last week, Trump promised Sean Hannity that if he becomes president, The Wall will be built, the “bad ones” will be kicked out of the country, and everyone else will get “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.”
On Sunday, VP candidate Mike Pence appeared on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper and attempted to clear up confusion by insisting that nothing has changed at all. When Tapper asked whether a “deportation force” will be kicking millions of undocumented immigrants out of the country, Pence sidestepped the question. “First off, let’s be very clear: nothing has changed about Donald Trump’s position on dealing with illegal immigration,” the Indiana governor replied. He went on:
“He put this issue at the center of this presidential campaign in the Republican primaries, and his position and his principles have been absolutely consistent. We’re gonna secure the border, we’re gonna build a wall, have a physical barrier. We’re going to enforce the laws of this country, end sanctuary cities, implement e-verify, and we will have a mechanism for dealing with people in this country that — you heard the word humanely again. It’s gonna be fair, it’s gonna be tough, but there will be no path to legalization, no path to citizenship, unless people leave the country. He said that very consistently.”
Jake Tapper pressed back. “The one issue you didn’t really address is whether or not the 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants will be removed by a deportation force,” as Trump promised in November of last year. “Is that policy still operative?” Pence denied the premise of the question. “What you heard him describe there, in his usual plainspoken, American way,” Pence insisted, “was a mechanism, not a policy.”