Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seemingly softening his stance on illegal immigration in a meeting with some of his top Hispanic advisers. In May, Trump promised very harsh handling of people in the United States illegally, much to the delight of white supremacists. Among those who showed support for Trump’s plan was former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke.
Trump’s statement from May read in part, “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely. Don’t forget, that you have millions of people that are waiting in line to come into this country.” Politicians from both sides of the aisle quickly condemned Trump’s plan as both unfeasible and cruel. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even responded in a tweet that the idea of having a group of people rounding up illegal immigrants was “inhumane” and “un-American.”
In his latest meeting this week, Trump backtracked on his hardline stance towards illegal immigrants, hinting at a possible road toward citizenship for undocumented residents. Among those in attendance at Trump’s meeting was Jacob Monty, an immigration attorney from Texas. Monty and others at the meeting were pleased with Trump changing his mind on how to solve the nation’s immigration problem.
Monty later told reporters that “I really liked that Trump acknowledged that there is a big problem with the 11 million [undocumented] people who are here, and that deporting them is neither possible nor humane.” Trump also noted in the meeting that he regretted some of his earlier comments, notably that immigrants coming from Latin America were rapists and drug dealers.
Political pundits and news commentators interpret Trump’s reversal of opinion as an attempt to woo both moderate voters and Hispanics to the Republican side for the November election. While it is unclear if Trump’s new stance on illegal immigration will appeal to mainstream voters, some are not convinced of the genuineness of his opinion.
Frank Sharry, a noted advocate of immigration reform, told BuzzFeed that Trump’s change of heart was “a sign of desperation.” Sharry also added that “Trump wants to fool these Republicans uncomfortable with his racism and bigotry that he’s pivoting. But a late head fake won’t be taken seriously by Latinos and their allies.”