Posted: 8:04 pm Thursday, August 25th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
A day after he left open the chance of legal status for millions of immigrants in the United States illegally, Donald Trump tried to close the door on that, telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he does not support any immediate move to a legal status for law abiding immigrants.
“There’s no path to legalization unless they leave the country,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and then come back,” Trump said of those in the U.S. illegally.
That type of procedure is what some would call, “touchback amnesty” – where the immigrant would return to their home country for an undetermined time, and then come back to the United States – legally.
Trump has always left “touchback amnesty” open as a possibility, even though he also called for the deportation of all immigrants who were illegally in the U.S., something that Ted Cruz repeatedly tried to highlight during the GOP primaries.
In fairness, Trump hasn't entirely flipped on amnesty. He always pushed touchback amnesty. His supporters just didn't know/understand/care.
— BLH (@blhnews) August 25, 2016
Trump has consistently been 4 Touchback Amnesty since day one. Seems like nobody was listening, b/c they'd rather project their wants on him
— Jim Hughes (@TheJimHughes) August 25, 2016
Following Trump on immigration is like trying to follow the plot of a Mexican soap opera. You can’t miss an episode.
— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) August 25, 2016
One problem for Trump is that he has been on all sides of the immigration debate over the years – and this week has been a reflection of that as well.
Republicans who have been opposed to Trump seized on the last few days to mock the GOP nominee.
“Trump supporters spit, write, and equivocate over his immigration flip flop,” was the headline at RedState, which has been no friend of Trump’s.
“Donald Trump’s mixed signals on deportation cause a GOP flap,” chimed in the Wall Street Journal.
Trump to CNN on whether he'll deport non-criminal illegal immigrants: "There is a very good chance the answer could be yes."
— Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein) August 26, 2016
“Who knew that it would be Donald Trump to come out and convert the GOP base to supporting amnesty..” — Rush Limbaugh, laughing hysterically
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) August 26, 2016
So far this week, Trump has praised how President Obama handled some immigration enforcement actions, opened the door to allowing millions to stay on in the U.S., and now seemingly closed that door to return to his original position that involved ‘touchback amnesty.’
Trump is supposed to talk immigration next week during a visit to Phoenix, as he promised on Thursday to set out more definitively what he wants to do on the politically charged issue.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.