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Trump Adds Point on Immigration Plan, Remains Vague on Deportations

Trump accused the media of being overly focused on whether he would deport the country's undocumented immigrants, after his recent shifting comments.
Image: Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at Joni's Roast and Ride at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016.Gerald Herbert / AP

DES MOINES, Iowa — Backed by bales of hay and flanked by some of Iowa’s top elected Republicans, Donald Trump added points to his vague plan for undocumented immigrants in America.

He remained unclear, however, about his plans for deportation — an issue Trump says the media is overly focused on but about which Trump has waffled on since last week.

"In recent days, the media — as it usually does — has missed the whole point on immigration,” Trump told the crowd, reigniting his attacks on the press. "All the media wants to talk about is the 11 million or more people here illegally."

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Trump has wavered on his signature policy plan, which originally included plans to deport the 11 million estimated undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Trump hinted at "softening" his position on immigration last week with Fox News' Sean Hannity — saying "there's no amnesty, but we work with them," while referring undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for many years with no criminal histories.

Trump then in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper promised that there would be no path to legalization, and his administration would seek to deport undocumented immigrants "vigorously" in accordance with existing laws.

On Saturday, attending Sen. Joni Ernst’s Second Annual Roast and Ride, Trump framed immigration as a jobs issue and a question of equal protection, saying that federal law protects the rights of Americans to get jobs. Undocumented immigrants taking those jobs, Trump said, means Americans are being denied that protection.

Trump outlined a plan that included things he has said before, like nationwide implementation of the "E-Verify" system and building a wall — but with one new caveat of "an exit-entry tracking system to ensure those who overstay their visas are quickly removed."

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This is similar to what passed a Senate "Gang of 8" bill in 2013 — a bill Trump attacked in the primary as weak on immigration.

"If we don’t enforce visa expiration dates, then we have an open border. It's as simple as that," Trump said. Left unexplained was how the exit-entry system would work, and and if those who have overstayed their visas would be among those deported under Trump's proposed plans.

Related: Hillary Clinton Tries to Drive Racial Wedge Between Trump and GOP

Trump brushed aside Hillary Clinton's attempts to tie him to white supremacists groups and the "alt right," dredging up Clinton's "super predator" comments made two decades ago.

"By the way, how quickly people have forgotten that Hillary Clinton called black youth 'super-predators,' remember that? Super-predators. And they were very, very insulted, but now people have forgotten," Trump said.

Clinton apologized for the comments, made in 1996 as she defended her husband’s 1994 crime bill. The "super predator" term has been seen as racist.

The Democratic nominee recently said she regretted the use of that terminology during a CNN debate in April. "I think it was a poor choice of words. I’d never used it before, have not used it since, would not use it again."

Related: Trump's History Undermines New Outreach to Black Voters

Trump continued Saturday to try and reach African-American voters. The GOP nominee took a new tack at Joni Ernst’s 2nd Annual Roast and Ride, touting the achievements and successes of black Americans, saying that these successes "deserve a government that protects and honors their incredible contribution."

Trump, who has not delivered his message directly to, or in, any black communities, told the crowd "nothing means more to me than working to make our party the home of the African-American vote once again."

But his means of getting there have raised questions with his emphasis on high crime and poverty.

Trump again referenced wanting to "fix" a society where black Americans live in "beyond belief conditions" and promised to make it that they could walk the streets without being killed, shot or mugged.

"We’re gonna have safe communities again," Trump promised, continuing what some have criticized as a stigmatization of black America that doesn’t match the reality.