Trump vows 'no amnesty, but we work with' illegal immigrants
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE promised there will be "no amnesty" for illegal immigrants during his presidency, even as he continues to ease up on his approach to tackling the issue of how to handle the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.


Trump was asked during an appearance on Fox News's "Hannity" Wednesday night about his initial pledge to deport those in the U.S. illegally and if he'd include an exception for those who have proven to be "a fair citizen."

"No citizenship. Let me go a step further – they'll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them," Trump responded.

Trump went on to say that "everybody agrees we get the bad ones out," but indicated he has grown sympathetic to upstanding people who have been living illegally in the U.S. for years. 

"But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me, and they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,' I have it all the time! It's a very, very hard thing," Trump said.

Trump's remarks in the interview come hours after the businessman made a pitch to Hispanic voters during a rally in Tampa, Fla., where he vowed to protect their "jobs and wages" from "illegal immigration and broken visa programs." 

In a Fox News interview that aired Tuesday, Trump said "There certainly could be a softening [of immigration laws] because we’re not looking to hurt people."

However, the GOP nominee maintained a hardline stance Wednesday when asked about so-called sanctuary cities, which limit the extent to which law enforcement assists federal officials in handling those in the country illegally.

"We got to get rid of the sanctuary cities, we're protecting these people. We're protecting criminals. And the police, who are phenomenal people, they're at a point where they almost give up," Trump said. "They catch them, they have them, they know they did it and then they know nothing is going to happen."

At a rally in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday night, Trump outlined his priorities when considering immigration policy.

“Any immigration policy I support as president must pass these three tests,” Trump said. “First, it must improve jobs and wages for U.S. citizens. Second, it must improve the safety and security of U.S. citizens. Third, it must improve the quality of life for U.S. citizens.”

Trump will give a policy speech on immigration, previously scheduled for Thursday, next Wednesday in Arizona.