- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2016

Donald Trump said a “softening” in his stance toward illegal immigrants will come in the future, once the country has stiffened border security and figured out ways to better deport people.

“Oh, there’s softening,” Mr. Trump said in an interview that aired Thursday on radio host Laura Ingraham’s show.

Hours earlier the GOP presidential nominee had laid out a strict approach to illegal immigrants, insisting that any of them caught in the U.S. would be subject to deportation — reversing President Obama’s policy of refusing to deport some 80 percent of those now here illegally.

But Mr. Trump also said illegal immigrants who go home on their own can apply to come back to the U.S. under new rules and numerical caps he’ll set in the future, and he said illegal immigrants who refuse to go home may still see leniency once the country gets a grip on the problem.

“Obviously, I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers out,” he said. “I want to get the drug dealers out. We got a lot of people in this country that you can’t have, and those people [we’ll] get out.”

“And then we’re going to make a decision at a later date once everything is stabilized,” he said. “I think you’re going to see there’s really quite a bit of softening.”

It’s unclear what Mr. Trump has in mind, both for those illegal immigrants who choose to leave and apply for reentry, and for those who remain but escape detection.

Current law, which Mr. Trump said he wants to enforce, would impose a 10-year bar on most illegal immigrants who return home then try to come back.

Mr. Trump’s wording on immigration has repeatedly sown confusion on this issue.

At a Fox News town hall last week he said “there can certainly be a softening” and that illegal immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. could be dealt with differently than hardened criminals.

Later in the week, he told CNN he doesn’t think it’s a softening.

“I’ve had people say it’s a hardening, actually,” Mr. Trump said.

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