Despite his fiery immigration rhetoric, is Donald Trump actually a supporter of amnesty?
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday, host Joe Scarborough asked Trump what he would do about the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the country once America secured its southern border. After arguing the real number of illegal immigrants is much higher and saying the first thing America needs to do is “take the bad” illegal immigrants and “get them the hell out,” Trump sounded like he was open to providing some type of pathway to legalization for the remainder.
“And then the other ones — and I’m a very big believer in merit system, I have to tell you,” Trump said. “Because some of these people have been here, they’ve done a good job, you know, in some cases sadly they’ve been living under the shadows.”
“We have to do something,” he continued. “So whether it’s merit or whether it’s whatever, but I’m a believer in the merit system. If somebody’s been outstanding, we try and work something out.”
Of course, Trump again emphasized that before moving forward with his “merit system” America needed to “secure the border.”
This is in line with what CNN’s Chris Moody reported Trump saying during a press conference in Chicago at the end of June. When asked what he would do about the illegal immigrants already residing in the country once the border was secured, Trump replied, “give them a path,” according to Moody.
When The Daily Caller sought clarification at the time from the Trump campaign, a senior adviser replied with a circuitous answer that emphasized that Trump wanted to secure the border and didn’t believe in “amnesty,” but wouldn’t explicitly reject a pathway to legalization.
By the definition of the loudest critics of comprehensive immigration reform in the Republican Party — many of whom Trump has won over with his immigration rhetoric — what Trump seems to be proposing would in fact be an amnesty, which these activists define as any pathway to normalizing the immigration statuses of America’s illegal population, no matter whether those illegals would be forced to pay a financial penalty or even prevented from gaining citizenship.