Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump muddied his position on immigration this week, making it unclear whether he stands by his previously articulated plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. The equivocation has made hard work for his closest allies, including his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
On Sunday, Pence dealt with the issue by dodging it.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Pence claimed that Trump has not changed his position at all on immigration, even though the candidate recently said he’d be open to letting some undocumented immigrants remain in the U.S. if they paid back taxes. Trump previously called for a deportation force to remove all undocumented immigrants.
“His position and his principles have been absolutely consistent,” Pence said. “We’re going to secure the border, we’re going to build a wall… end sanctuary cities, implement e-verify… and we will have a mechanism for dealing with people in this country.”
“You’ve heard the word ‘humanely’ again,” Pence went on, referencing the Trump campaign’s new proclamations that the candidate would deal humanely with undocumented immigrants. “It’s going to be fair, it’s going to be tough, but there will be no path to citizenship… He said that very consistently.”
“Except on this issue,” Tapper responded. “The one issue you didn’t really address is whether or not the 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants will be removed by a deportation force as you heard Mr. Trump say [last year]. Is that policy still operative?”
Pence didn’t offer much clarity, merely saying Trump’s earlier call for deportations was “a mechanism, not a policy.” He then more or less said to stay tuned.
“You’re going to hear more detail in the next two weeks that lays out all the policies,” Pence said. “But there will be no change in the principle here.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.