Donald Trump has suggested that he would maybe allow some undocumented immigrants to remain in the country under certain conditions, a shift from previous rhetoric calling for a deportation force.
Interested in Donald Trump?Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
"You have somebody that has been in the country for 20 years," Trump said hypothetically at a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity taped on Tuesday, the second half of which aired tonight at 10 p.m.. "He has done a great job. Do we throw them out or do we work with them?"
The crowd applauded for the latter option.
When asked whether he would allow an exception for someone to stay in the U.S. who's proven to be a fair citizen, Trump said, "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."
He later added that "people that have been working so hard to come into the country, are going through the process, we're going to take them in and we're going to cherish them, and they're going to love us."
"We want the ones that want to love us, not the ones that want to create problems," Trump said.
On Tuesday, during the first half of the town hall, Trump indicated there could be a "softening" of his controversial immigration policies. "There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people," he said when asked by Hannity if there was "any part of the law" he would change to accommodate law-abiding immigrants who have kids in the U.S.
During the primary season, Trump called for the removal of all undocumented immigrants through a deportation force, subsequently allowing what he referred to as the “good” immigrants to return legally.
“We can expedite the good ones to come back in and everybody wants that. But they have to come in legally,” he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” last October. “We're a country of laws. We're a country of borders. How can you have a country without a border? How can you have a country without laws?”
Trump said at the town hall that his shift had come after speaking with voters who emphasized the difficult predicament of undocumented immigrants.
“When I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, 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 that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,'” he said of the exchanges he’s had on the trail.
"I have it all the time," he added. "It's a very, very hard thing."
Speculation that Trump might soften his stance on immigration began to emerge after he held a closed door meeting this past Saturday with members of his National Hispanic Advisory Council, which the Republican National Committee described as "a diverse group of national Hispanic leaders who are advising the campaign and sharing Mr. Trump’s proposals with the Hispanic community."
Jacob Monty, a Houston lawyer who is a member of the council and was at the meeting, told ABC News he was “very encouraged” by the discussion at the meeting on undocumented immigrants and the fact Trump sought counsel from the members.
“He brought up the topic and said we needed to find a solution,” Monty said Saturday.