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Politifact: Pence wrong on Trump's policy consistency toward nonviolent undocumented immigrants

Donald Trump made a statesman-like visit to the president of Mexico last week, then followed that up by delivering a hard-charging speech on immigration in Phoenix. It left many people wondering if Trump was softening or hardening his immigration policies.

That was the topic for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who took questions about his running mate on NBC's Meet the Press. Host Chuck Todd pointed out that Trump has been inconsistent on what to do with approximately 11 million people living in the United States illegally, specifically those who haven't committed violent crime.

"I think Donald Trump's been completely consistent," Pence countered. "And I think he did answer the question."

Todd pressed Pence with more questioning, noting that Latino leaders were concerned about what Trump's policies actually were. But Pence didn't directly answer.

We looked in depth at Trump's statements about the undocumented immigrants and found that Trump's answers have not been consistent; Pence's statement rates False.

At times Trump has been vague, and at other times he's contradicted himself. His current position seems to be one of wait and see.

Trump's varied positions

As a presidential candidate, Trump has said violent criminals should be deported, a position that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also holds. Trump has also advocated detention of those crossing the border and enhanced penalties for visa overstays.

His campaign website makes no mention of the undocumented population at large, however, and in comments throughout this election, he's floated several proposals.

A few days after he announced his candidacy, Trump suggested he was open to a pathway to citizenship. "You have to give them a path, and you have to make it possible for them to succeed. But the bad ones, you have to get them out and get them out fast," Trump said in a July 3, 2015, news conference.

Then, during most of the GOP primary, Trump supported deporting all undocumented immigrants but allowing some to return through an expedited legal process.

He didn't give details on how he would implement deportations, but he remained committed to his position and criticized primary opponents for being weak on the issue and promising "amnesty."

"You're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely," he said Nov. 11 on MSNBC. "Now they can come back, but they have to come back legally."

After winning the GOP primary, Trump seemed to walk back his calls for removing all of the 11 million undocumented immigrants.

"No, I wouldn't call it mass deportations," he told Bloomberg in June. "We are going to get rid of a lot of bad dudes who are here, that I can tell you."

More recently, in an Aug. 23 town hall, Trump asked his supporters to indicate via applause what he should do with the nonviolent immigrants: "No. 1, we'll say throw them out. No. 2, we work with them."

After the voice vote, Trump said, "Everywhere I go, I get the same reaction. They want toughness. They want firmness. They want to obey the law. But — but they feel that throwing them out as a whole family when they've been here for a long time — it's a tough thing."

After the town hall, Trump insisted he hadn't changed his position. "I don't think it's a softening. I've had people saying it's a hardening, actually," Trump told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Aug. 26. "We're going to deport many people, many, many people."

When pressed on whether he would deport undocumented immigrants who haven't committed a crime, Trump said, "We're going to see what happens. But there's a very good chance the answer could be yes, but there's no legalization. There's no amnesty. If somebody wants to go the legalization route, what they'll do is they'll go leave the country, hopefully come back in and then we can talk."

In his Phoenix speech outlining his immigration policy, Trump reiterated that legal status would only be granted to undocumented immigrants who "return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else."

But a day after, Trump suggested his mind wasn't quite made up, and that he'd have to see which undocumented immigrants remained after all his policies had been implemented.

"We're going to sit back, we're going to assess the situation," Trump said on Fox News. "We're going to make a decision at that time. I want to see, before we do anything further, I want to see how it shapes up when we have strong, you know, I use the word impenetrable, borders."

The statement

"Donald Trump's been completely consistent" about his plan for nonviolent undocumented immigrants.

Mike Pence, on NBC's Meet the Press

The ruling

Trump has advocated for mass deportations and then rejected mass deportations before saying there's a "very good chance" they would happen. He's said "you have to give them a path" but rejected "amnesty" and then said legal status could be granted to those who leave the country first and apply for re-entry. We rate Pence's statement False.

Politifact: Pence wrong on Trump's policy consistency toward nonviolent undocumented immigrants 09/04/16 [Last modified: Sunday, September 4, 2016 11:10pm]
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