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As Donald Trump prepares immigration speech, mass deportation at issue
Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde August 30, 2016

Donald Trump says his immigration stance is "very strong" despite changes in his rhetoric about mass deportations.

Throughout his campaign, the Republican presidential nominee has offered contradictory plans for how he would address the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrant population. At times he has said he would have a deportation force to round up people here illegally, and that while he wants families to stay together, "they have to go." Most recently, he said there can be a "softening because we're not looking to hurt people, we want people."

Trump may attempt to clear up his contradictory views on mass deportation on Aug. 31, when he’s scheduled to deliver a speech in Phoenix, Ariz., about illegal immigration.

The issue has been a cornerstone of his campaign since Trump officially announced his run for the presidency in June 2015. But Trump has been more consistent on some planks of his immigration platform than others.

He has not backed away from his promise to build "a big, fat, beautiful wall" along the southern border, and to make Mexico pay for it. But he did ease his "total and complete shutdown" of Muslim immigrants, saying he would ban immigration from parts of the world with a "proven history of terrorism" against the United States and its allies (without naming specific countries).

What he would do about undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for many years, have families and are not committing violent crimes has been hard to pin down.

Ahead of his immigration-focused speech, PolitiFact collected Trump’s various comments about mass deportations.

Trump’s shifting rhetoric

Trump first mentioned a "deportation force" to target the undocumented population on Nov. 11, 2015.

"You're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely," Trump said when pressed by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski.

On Aug. 21, 2016, Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash a deportation force was "to be determined."

In a Fox News town hall taped Aug. 23 in Austin, Sean Hannity asked Trump if he would change any part of the law to "accommodate those people that contribute to society, have been law-abiding, have kids here."

"There 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.

That same week, Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper deportations are a process and that "you can't take 11 (million) at one time and just say 'boom, you're gone.' We have to find where these people are. Most people don't even know where they are. Nobody even knows if it's 11. It could be 30 or and it could be 5. Nobody knows what the number is."

(A similar claim by Trump about the population being 30 million or higher rated Pants on Fire, with no credible estimates nearly that high.)

Trump then countered what he had said a few days earlier. "I don't think it's a softening," Trump said. "I've had people say it's a hardening, actually."

Trump talked about it again Aug. 26 on Fox News’ On the Record. Kimberly Guilfoyle asked him if he believed in amnesty and if he was softening his tone.

"My stance is very strong. It's going to remain very strong. There will be no amnesty. There is no legalization," Trump said.

He went on to say he would get gang members and drug dealers living illegally in the country out "very, very, very fast" and secure the border to stop criminals from coming in.

Guilfoyle asked him how he felt about undocumented families that have settled in the United States for more than a decade.

Trump reiterated his plan to secure the border and to get "rid of the criminal elements."

"We will look into various situations," Trump said, adding that there are people going through legal processes to come into the United States. "We have to remember that we have a country that's based on laws and the people are here illegally.

"So we will see what we will see."

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Our Sources

YouTube, Donald Trump Presidential Announcement Full Speech June 16, 2015

Donald Trump campaign website, Immigration reform position

Donald Trump campaign website, statement on preventing Muslim immigration, Dec. 7, 2015

PolitiFact, Compare the candidates: Clinton vs. Trump on immigration, July 15, 2016

PolitiFact, How Trump plans to build, and pay for, a wall along U.S.-Mexico border, July 26, 2016

PolitiFact, Donald Trump's top 10 campaign promises, July 15, 2016

Politico, Trump denies 'flip-flopping' on immigration, Aug. 22, 2016

Politico, Sen. Sessions: I can ‘be supportive’ of Trump’s immigration move, Aug. 25, 2016

Los Angeles Times, 'It's going to be a big, fat, beautiful wall!': Trump's words make his California climb an even steeper trek, June 3, 2016

Washington Post, Trump: 'The wall just got ten feet higher', Feb. 13, 2016

Washington Post, Trump’s dubious claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion, Feb. 11, 2016

MSNBC, Trump puts a price on his wall: It would cost Mexico $8 billion, Feb. 9, 2016

Transcript, MSNBC's Town Hall with Donald Trump, Feb. 17, 2016

Time, Here’s Donald Trump’s Presidential Announcement Speech, June 16, 2015

CNN, Trump: No legal status for undocumented immigrants, Aug. 26, 2016

CNN, Donald Trump promises 'deportation force' to remove 11 million, Nov. 12, 2015

NBC News, Donald Trump: Undocumented Immigrants 'Have to Go,’ Aug. 16, 2015

Fox News, Trump says he's open to 'softening' immigration laws in 'Hannity' town hall, Aug. 24, 2016

YouTube, Donald Trump interview on Fox News’ "On the Record," Aug. 26, 2016

CBS News, Trump gets down to business on 60 Minutes, Sept. 27, 2015

America’s Voice, National Leaders Respond: How Is Trump’s Latino and African American Outreach Going?, Aug. 25, 2016

PolitiFact, Donald Trump wrongly says the number of illegal immigrants is 30 million or higher, July 28, 2015

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As Donald Trump prepares immigration speech, mass deportation at issue