Trump promises details on his immigration policy as supporters waver

Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up after his speech at a campaign rally in Austin, Texas, on Aug 22, 2016.
Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up after his speech at a campaign rally in Austin, Texas, on Aug 22, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has tweeted that he would make a major speech on illegal immigration in Arizona tomorrow.

The announcement came a day after Mr Trump said he would crack down on illegal immigrants who overstay their visas, as he sought to clarify his views on how to overhaul the US immigration system.

Last week, he had said he was "softening"on his plan to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants, arousing criticism from conservatives who want him to stand fast after he won the Republican presidential nomination in large part with a hardline position that called for building a wall along the US border with Mexico.

This came as a number of his surrogates backed away on Sunday from the primary element of his immigration policy, further muddying an issue on which Mr Trump himself sowed confusion in recent days.

Governor Mike Pence, his running mate, would not affirm that their administration would expel the 11 million. Asked if Mr Trump still sought a "deportation force", which he called for last year, Mr Pence said Mr Trump was speaking of "a mechanism, not a policy".

He also backed away from Mr Trump's opposition to automatic citizenship for children born in the US to illegal immigrants.

The efforts of Mr Trump's surrogates reflect a problem for him as he lags behind Mrs Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in many polls.

He enters the campaign's final stretch with an immigration policy that is popular with his core supporters but not with voters at large.

Ms Kellyanne Conway, Mr Trump's campaign manager, went even further than Mr Pence, suggesting that Mr Trump no longer favoured the forced removal of illegal immigrants.

"He is not talking about a deportation force, but he is talking about being fair and humane," Ms Conway said on CBS' Face The Nation.

REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2016, with the headline 'Trump promises details on his immigration policy as supporters waver'. Print Edition | Subscribe