Donald Trump came down hard against those who claimed his immigration stances have started to resemble amnesty, during part two of his Austin, Texas, town hall Wednesday.
During the first part of the interview on Tuesday, the Republican nominee told Fox News host Sean Hannity he was open to "softening" immigration views, but did not specify what he meant. The segment that aired on Wednesday showcased a polarizing statement on whether he would allow exceptions for otherwise law-abiding illegal aliens.
"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. Now, everybody agrees we get the bad ones out," Trump said. "But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me, and they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,' I have it all the time! It's a very, very hard thing."
One of the methods criminal illegal aliens have been able to stay in the U.S. despite being arrested for various crimes is because more than 300 cities' law enforcement officers will not hold criminal aliens for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pick up. Instead, criminal aliens are let out back on to the street.
"We got to get rid of the sanctuary cities, we're protecting these people. We're protecting criminals. And the police, who are phenomenal people, they're at a point where they almost give up. They catch them, they have them, they know they did it and then they know nothing is going to happen," Trump said. "You know, OK, so if you're a killer and you're in this country, they go after you big league and it's tough. If you're a killer and you're an illegal immigrant, the police don't know what to do."
Trump met with Hispanic groups over the weekend and talked about the meeting at a Fox News townhall in Austin, Texas, Tuesday night.
"[T]here certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people, we want people — we have some great people in this country," Trump said about his meeting with the Latino leaders. "So, but we're going to follow the laws of this country. And, you know, what people don't realize, what people don't realize, we have very, very strong laws."
Trump covered all of his bases, citing following the rule of law, but remaining vague enough that it was unclear whether he was talking about holding illegal aliens accountable for entering the country without legal permission or something else.
On Tuesday, when moderator Sean Hannity asked Trump if he would essentially grant amnesty or legal forgiveness to those who have "worked hard, who have been here a long time," Trump admitted he plans to "see where people are, we're going to see how they've done."