A group of Hispanic supporters of Donald Trump left a Saturday meeting with him suggesting he’ll have a plan next week for dealing with immigrants illegally in the U.S. that goes beyond deportation.
Three of the Hispanics who are part of Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council spoke with NBC Latino after the meeting. Each spoke of an “open-minded” Trump who asked for their ideas on how to address the estimated 11 million people in the country without legal status.
Trump is to hold a news conference and rally in Colorado next Thursday and they said they expect details will come then.
“I think on Thursday we are going to have a plan that every Latino Democratic or Republican can be proud of as a very realistic, compassionate way of solving the problem,” said Jacob Monty, an immigration attorney from Houston who also chairs the Latino-Jewis Alliance.
There was some discussion after the meeting that Trump was going to back a legalization plan for the 11 million undocumented, but none of those interviewed would verify that.
“If all we got was touchback, I think that would be huge,” Monty said referring to a policy that would require immigrants here illegally to return to their home countries and apply for a visa to return to the U.S. Such a policy was proposed in 2007 and was part of a plan floated by Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, when he served in Congress.
“If all we got was re-examining the three and 10-year bars, even if we got a guest worker program that just allowed for some of the people to take advantage I would be very happy,” he said.
The three- and 10-year bars are part of immigration law that came about in the Bill Clinton administration and prohibit anyone who has been found to have been in the country illegally from returning to the U.S. for three years or 10 years depending on how long they were in this country illegally.
Trump has been slumping in the polls. The latest NBC battleground map shows Clinton surging past Trump in electoral votes.
He has done poorly with Hispanics, hurt from the beginning when he opened his presidential bid by declaring that Mexico sends Mexicans who are rapists and bring crime and drugs. Polls have shown about 80 percent of Latinos opposed him.
Monty said Trump made no sort of apology at the meeting Saturday.
“He did say he wanted to make it clear that he believed that there are bad immigrants that come over and he stands by that,” Monty said. “He said he never intended for people to misinterpret that.”
Jesus Marquez, a Nevada political analyst and Latino outreach strategist, said Trump has asked the group to put something on paper.
“He definitely was seeking input from this group of Latinos in terms of immigration reform. He is expecting for us to lay out points of a future plan for immigration,” Marquez said.
Jose Fuentes, a former attorney general of Puerto Rico, also attended the meeting. He said the meeting was held to replace the event that had been scheduled for Miami before the night club shootings in Orlando.
Asked whether Trump planned to back legalization for the 11 million here illegally, Fuentes said, “the definition of legalization – as you know it is wide, so what does it mean.”
Fuentes said Trump brought up the issue of the 11 million undocumented in the country.
“We told him what we thought and he was very receptive. He agreed it is an important issue that needs to be dealt with and he is going to be reviewing some ideas we gave him.”
“I don’t think it’s a shift. I think it’s reality. He understands that this is an issue that it’s important to the Hispanic community and he wants to find a way to deal with it in a way that’s within the law and in a compassionate way,” Fuentes said.
He said that Trump acknowledged in the meeting that Hispanics are hard workers and they are loyal.
He said he acknowledged that Latinos are the largest minority group in the country and that the country doesn’t do well unless Latinos do well, “those were his words,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes has been a supportive Republican and acted as a Trump surrogate during the Republican convention in Cleveland last month.
In response to Latino Republicans' comments about Trump's possible plans, Clinton's national political director Amanda Renteria said in a statement:
"Let's remember that Trump started this campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and continued to find ways to disparage the Latino community by promising to implement a deportation force that would deport 16 million people, end DACA, end birthright citizenship, conduct round ups of families, ban Muslims and other immigrants from entering the United States, and build a concrete wall along the border," stated Renteria to NBC Latino.
"If true, this is a cynical attempt from Donald Trump to distract from his dangerous policies that he doubled down on just this week in a new ad. Donald Trump will be Donald Trump and what's clear is that he's dangerous for the Latino community," Renteria added.