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Trump: Undocumented Wanting to Be In Military a 'Special Circumstance'

by Suzanne Gamboa /
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the Commander in Chief Forum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 7, 2016.MIKE SEGAR / Reuters

GOP nominee Donald Trump, added a little more confusion to his immigration stance, saying in NBC's Commander in Chief Forum Wednesday night that undocumented immigrants wanting to serve in the military are a "special circumstance."

Trump was responding to a question from Sue Fulton, an Army veteran and West Point graduate, who asked whether an undocumented person who wants to serve in the military should be allowed to remain in the U.S.

Trump initially said he could see himself "working that out." NBC's Matt Lauer sought clarification on whether the question was about those who have served or want to serve. Fulton clarified her question was about those who want to serve.

"I think military is a very special thing," Trump responded. "If they plan on serving, if they get in, I would absolutely hold those people – now, we have to be very careful. We have to vet very carefully. Everybody would agree with that. But the answer is, it would be a very special circumstance. Yes."

A limited number of immigrants with deportation deferrals through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program are allowed to serve in the military. Those allowed to enlist must have language, cultural or medical skills needed by the military. But otherwise those here illegally are not able to serve in the military.

Trump has maintained that anyone in the country illegally must leave the U.S. and could only return by getting "on line."

There was skepticism of Trump's statement. Greisa Martinez, advocacy director of United We Dream Action, an advocacy groups for young immigrants who arrived or stayed illegally, said Trump's statement "isn't fooling anyone."

"Trump's immigration plan is clear: end DACA and triple the number of immigration agents to mass deport 11 million people. He can’t deploy us and deport us," Martinez said Thursday.

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