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 In this Jan. 4, 2016 file photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent drives near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Sunland Park, N.M. (AP)  In this Jan. 4, 2016 file photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent drives near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Sunland Park, N.M. (AP)

In this Jan. 4, 2016 file photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent drives near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Sunland Park, N.M. (AP)

Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde July 28, 2016

Did Donald Trump promise mass deportation of 'Latino families'?

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has achieved one thing in the Democrats’ favor: He has united them with divisive policies.

"Donald Trump, when you take pride in your outright ignorance of world affairs, when you promise the mass deportation of Latino families, when you dismiss officer-involved shootings of African-Americans, when you degrade women, Donald Trump, you unite us," Bass said on the third night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

That prompted us to revisit Trump’s comments about immigrants and deportations.

Bass said Trump has promised to deport Latino families, but only characterizing those families as "Latino" misses an important distinction in Trump’s plans.

Trump has promised to deport undocumented immigrants. Not all Latinos in the country are undocumented, and not all undocumented immigrants are Latino.

That said, the majority of undocumented immigrants are from Latin American countries.

Pew Research Center’s most recent estimates pegged the number of unauthorized immigrants in the nation at 11.3 million, or about 3.5 percent of the U.S. population. Mexicans account for about half of the unauthorized population, according to Pew.

So what exactly has Trump said about mass deportations?

Earlier on in his campaign, Trump said he would round up "in a very humane way" the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country and send them back to their native countries.

In an interview that aired in September 2015 on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Scott Pelley pressed Trump about what he would do with the population.

Pelley: "Eleven, 12 million illegal immigrants --"

Trump: "Or whatever the number is."

Pelley: "Still in the country, what do you do?"

Trump: "If they've done well, they're going out and they're coming back in legally. Because you said it--"

Pelley: "You're rounding them all up?"

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Trump: "We're rounding 'em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way. And they're going to be happy because they want to be legalized. And, by the way, I know it doesn't sound nice. But not everything is nice."

Trump has also discussed having a "deportation force" to remove undocumented immigrants from the country, though he’s also said he would let some come back legally.

Trump stuck to the deportation plan for all undocumented immigrants in some of the GOP primary debates. During the CNN/Telemundo debate on Feb. 25, 2016, host Wolf Blitzer asked about his deportation force idea and whether his plan to let "good ones" back in amounted to amnesty. Trump said "we either have a country, or we don’t have a country."

"We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally," he continued. "They will go out. They will come back -- some will come back, the best, through a process. They have to come back legally. They have to come back through a process, and it may not be a very quick process, but I think that's very fair, and very fine. They're going to get in line with other people."

In March, Fox host Megyn Kelly asked Trump whether he told the New York Times editorial board in an off-the-record interview that he was "flexible" on his deportation plan. Trump said, "Not very flexible. No, not very flexible. ...  But there's always give and take. ... But we need give and take in government. If you don't have give and take, you're never going to agree on anything."

Change of heart?

So Trump clearly has said he would seek to remove the 11 million or more undocumented immigrants.

But he also has suggested he may be softening that position, without offering specifics.

On a recent trip to Scotland, Trump said President Barack Obama "has mass deported vast numbers of people -- the most ever" and that Trump would have "not only the best policies, but I will have the biggest heart of anybody," Bloomberg Politics reported June 25.

He said he would not label his approach "mass deportations." "No, I would not call it mass deportations," Trump told Bloomberg Politics. He said he would "get rid of a lot of bad dudes who are here."

Trump’s campaign website contains no mention of deporting the entire undocumented population. Instead it focuses on the mandatory return of criminal aliens and nationwide use of the E-verify system, among other policies.

Our ruling

Bass said Trump has "promised mass deportation of Latino families."

Off the bat, Bass’ attack is imprecise. She said Trump wants to deport Latino families, when he has not promised that exactly. He pledged to remove the undocumented population, which is certainly comprised of Latinos but is not exclusive to them. (And obviously, not all Latinos in the United States are here illegally.)

The underlying issue is tough talk Trump offered earlier in his campaign about rounding up undocumented immigrants in the country and sending them back to their native countries — with the "good ones" able to come back, possibly. Trump reiterated that stance several times as journalists asked how it would work.

But the Republican presidential nominee appears to have recently softened his view over the last month, and his official immigration plans don’t mention deporting undocumented families en masse.

We rate Bass’ statement Half True.

Our Sources

Democratic National Convention, Speech by Rep. Karen Bass, July 27, 2016

CBS, 60 Minutes interview, Sept. 27, 2015

Bloomberg Politics, Trump Says Muslim Ban Plan to Focus on ‘Terrorist’ Countries, June 25, 2016

MSNBC, Trump vows to deport 11 million people, Nov. 11, 2015

Pew Research Center, 5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S., November 19, 2015

PolitiFact, Has Barack Obama deported more people than any other president in U.S. history?, Aug. 10, 2012

The Washington Post, CNN-Telemundo Republican debate transcript

The American Presidency Project, Republican candidate debate, March 3, 2016

Donald Trump campaign website

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Did Donald Trump promise mass deportation of 'Latino families'?

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