All I have right now is a one-sentence quote leaked by CNN to the media, but it’s newsy enough to share it ASAP. For the full context, we’ll have to watch Anderson Cooper’s show tonight.
Anderson Cooper: So if they haven’t committed a crime is there going to be a path to legalization? I’m talking about citizenship.
Donald Trump: No there’s not a path to legalization unless people leave the country if they come back in and then they have to start paying taxes but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and come back.
That sounds like touchback amnesty but it’s hard to be sure what Trump’s responding to because Cooper botches the question, conflating legalization with citizenship. It sounds, though, like he’s back to his original position, which is that illegals will have to leave the country before they can be legalized. In other words, mass deportation. Why you’d go to the expense of removing illegals en masse only to let most of them back in has never made sense to me, especially if you’re worried about foreign labor driving down wages for American workers. Did the overnight backlash from Coulter and anti-Trump border hawks convince him to abandon his flirtation with more traditional amnesty? Or does he mean here that illegals might be legalized if they stay but in order to have a chance to become citizens they’ll have to go the extra mile by returning home first? I.e. put an extra burden on them in exchange for the extra benefit eventually of being able to vote?
Or is he simply confused about his own plan and is bouncing back and forth in interviews between touchback amnesty and the more traditional form?
Another question. If he’s talking about touchback amnesty and that was the plan all along, why did Kellyanne Conway say this to Anderson Cooper two nights ago?
COOPER: OK, bottom line. We’re going to take a break. But no more deportation force talk and the 11 million it’s not everyone’s got to leave and good ones come back.
CONWAY: Looking at the mechanism, but also not touch back, but looking at the mechanism, and making sure that whatever the policy is that he implements as he has said in the past, it is done humanely and fairly, that we know there are people involved here.
You can watch that exchange at 16:25 below. When he’s finally going to give that immigration speech so we know what the policy is? Stay tuned. Cooper’s show starts at 8 p.m. ET.
Update: His pal Reince Priebus doesn’t seem to think mass deportation is in the cards:
“We never said a pathway to citizenship, and I tend to believe that legalization or some kind of legalization is the proper route, not necessarily citizenship,” Priebus said on Kilmeade and Friends…
“I’ll wait and see what Donald Trump ultimately decides, I’m not convinced he’s comfortable with the idea of trying to deport 12 million people,” Priebus said. “It’s not a practical place to be and I don’t necessarily think he was there.”