DES MOINES (Iowa) • Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has provided a more detailed look at his immigration policy, returning to the issue after a week in which he faced criticism from across the political spectrum for seeming to soften his hard-line position on deporting immigrants who have no valid documentation.
In a speech at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday, Mr Trump said he would strengthen the system that allows employers to verify the eligibility of workers and would create an entry-exit tracking system for United States visas.
He also reiterated his promise to cancel "unconstitutional orders" and "executive orders" relating to immigration.
But Mr Trump largely avoided the question that has caused him trouble last week: What to do about the undocumented immigrants already in the country.
"All the media wants to talk about is the 11 million people, or more, or less - they have no idea what the number is because we have no control over our country, have no idea what it is - that are here illegally," Mr Trump said.
His proposals on the employment verification system - known as E-Verify - and on visa-tracking, which he said would "ensure those who overstay their visas are quickly removed", are in line with the approaches put forward by many Republicans, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, two of Mr Trump's chief rivals in the Republican primary, and Mr Mitt Romney, the party's nominee in 2012. They were also central to legislation proposed by a bipartisan group of senators in 2013.
Mr Trump maintained his hard-line approach to undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes, promising that "on Day One, I am going to begin swiftly removing criminal illegal immigrants from this country". He said he would always "err on the side of protecting the American people" when it came to the removing of such immigrants.
To help illustrate his point, Mr Trump invited the family of Ms Sarah Root, a young Iowa woman killed in a drink-driving accident by an illegal immigrant, to give brief remarks.
Mr Trump rallied much of his primary support with a controversial hard-line tone against illegal immigrants and his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. Some of his advisers are now reportedly urging him to tone down his signature policy priority.
But the billionaire candidate and his campaign faced a backlash from some of his supporters, who expressed anger and confusion, after he told the Fox News host Sean Hannity last Wednesday that he would be open to "softening" on immigration.
Immigration has been a crucial issue in the 2016 presidential campaign ahead of the Nov 8 election. Mr Trump's rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, has proposed creating an office of immigrant affairs to expand US President Barack Obama's efforts to help immigrants integrate better into the country.
Mr Obama's term ends on Jan 20.
NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS