Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke to Sean Hannity this week at a Fox News’ town hall featured on the "Hannity" program, where he reiterated that there will be "no amnesty" for illegal immigrants. However, he did suggest that a future Trump administration would "work with them." He said that there will be “no citizenship” available to illegal immigrants. Comment was rife about the apparent change of heart, both among Republicans and Democrats.

Trump is expected to give a highly-anticipated speech on immigration next week in Phoenix on August 31 at the Hyatt Regency hotel.

Furthermore, Trump stated, "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." Trump said it will be hard to deport those who have lived in the US for decades and raised a family. "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."

His remarks have been understood by supporters and detractors alike as a softening of his oft-mentioned pledge that came at the beginning of his campaign to deport 11 million illegal immigrants from the United States.

During the town hall on August 23, Trump said he was open to “softening” laws dealing with illegal immigrants. Among those who reacted negatively to Trump’s latest statements on immigration is author and controversialist Ann Coulter. A Trump supporter, Coulter wrote in her new book “In Trump We Trust,” "There’s nothing Trump can do that won’t be forgiven. Except change his immigration policies." In a series of statements on Twitter, Coulter took exception to Trump’s apparent pivot.

For example, Coulter wrote: “It's not ‘amnesty.’ It's ‘comprehensive immigration reform’!!!! Trump: ‘they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty.’”

In the past, those advocating a path towards amnesty have suggested that the “hoops” illegal aliens would have to go through would include proof of having no criminal history apart from entering the country illegally. Coulter did not fail to mention “hoops,” and repeating Trump’s call for paying “back-taxes.” She said, “Only part he left out was the ‘hoops’ they'll have to jump through! Trump:’No citizenship. Let me go a step further—they'll pay back-taxes.’"

Quoting Trump, who said that deporting illegal aliens with families in the US will be “hard,” Coulter wrote: “Well, then. Never mind.” When speaking to Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” this week, Coulter was asked to comment on Trump’s offer at “softening” his immigration policies. She answered that his comments “sounded very consultant to me.”

Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the Trump and Coulter on his radio show today. After regaining his composure after guffaws and laughter, the veteran conservative radio host said, "“Who knew,” Limbaugh finally managed to say between chuckles, “that it would be Donald Trump to come out and convert the GOP base to supporting amnesty the same week Ann Coulter’s book comes out!” Laughing again, Limbaugh said, “Poor Ann! Oh, my God, she’s got this book In Trump We Trust, and in it she says the only thing, the only thing that could cause Trump any trouble whatsoever is if he flip-flops on immigration, goes amnesty. It looks like he’s getting close to it, and she’s just beside herself with this. I mean, what timing.”

Hazarding a prediction, Trump appeared sanguine about what Trump's statements over immigration will mean for the election. “I don’t see a lot of people preparing to abandon Trump over this,” he said later. “Maybe Coulter. Who knows what she’s gonna do. I mean, her book hits, and it’s just had the rug pulled out from under it.”
 

 

In her interview with MSBNC's Matthews, Coulter added, “This could be the shortest book tour ever if he’s really softening his position on immigration,” in reference to her latest book. She said, “I don’t think he is” softening. She did say, however, that she is worried that Trump is beginning to sound like the candidates he defeated in the primaries and that he is losing his focus on immigration, the emptying out of cities, and unnecessary wars. 

“I think this is a mistake. It sounds like it’s coming from consultants,” Coulter told Matthews, a Democrat. “I’ve thought he’s made other mistakes, and I’ve given him constructive criticism when I think he makes a mistake. I think this is a mistake.” She has been critical of at least one of Trump’s “mistakes”: naming Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as his running mate. Coulter said this was “Trump’s first mistake.”

In an interview earlier this week with the Washington Examiner, Coulter  said, "I don't think it is a change in policy."  Emphasizing the illegality of the status of immigrants who have overstayed their visas or entered the country illegally, she said that policymakers can decide "whether it's in our interest to let them stay or not. Perhaps it is in our interest to let some of them stay."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-SC) defended Trump’s enhanced immigration policy. “Oh yeah, I can be supportive of that,” he told “Fox and Friends.” “I think what he’s saying is let’s prove the weakness in so many of the plans that have been offered over the years is that they’ve given amnesty first and promised enforcement in the future.”

Speaking to news host Andrew Cuomo, Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway insisted, “Nothing has changed as far as the policies.” Despite what Trump said the previous night to Hannity, Conway argued that Trump is not bailing out from his position on immigration. She said Trump is “not for amnesty.” Conway said, “What voters need to see is what Donald Trump is saying his immigration plan is.”

CNN summarized on Twitter Conway’s take on Trump’s immigration policy: “No amnesty. No sanctuary cities. E-Verify for businesses.”

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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