"There's no path to legalization unless they leave the country," Trump told Cooper after an event in Manchester, New Hampshire. "When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and then come back."
He said that, on his first day in office, he would get the "bad ones" out.
"We are going to find people and we’re getting immediately, and I mean first hour of my -- the first document I will sign will say, get the bad ones out of this country, bring them back where they came from," Trump said.
But, perplexingly, when asked again if undocumented immigrant with a family in the U.S. who hasn't committed a crime would be deported, Trump didn't give a clear answer.
"We’re going to see what happens once we strengthen up our border," Trump replied.
With these statements, the scope and nature of Trump's immigration policies become even more murky. Earlier this week, appearing in a town hall hosted by Fox News' Sean Hannity, Trump said that there could be a "softening."
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., Trump replied: "There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people. We want people -- we have some great people in this country."
Trump also suggested that people who have been in the country for several years could remain.
“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."
Trump polled the crowd assembled for the town hall on their preferred option.
"You have somebody that has been in the country for 20 years," Trump said hypothetically. "He has done a great job. Do we throw them out or do we work with them?"
The crowd applauded for the latter option.
During his unprecedented rise during the primaries, immigration was Trump's hallmark issue. He once called for a deportation force, calling candidates such as Jeb Bush, who advocated for a path to legal status, "weak" on immigration. In the interview with CNN, when Cooper brought up similarities in their plans, Trump responded, "I don’t know anything about Jeb Bush. He wasn’t building a wall."
He is expected to unveil an updated immigration plan in the coming weeks, with sources telling ABC News that specific policies are still being worked out.
Trump was also asked about his recent comments regarding African Americans that suggested they might all get shot walking down the street.
"You’re saying you get shot on your street, you don’t have jobs," Cooper began. "Excuse me," Trump interjected. "That’s the fact. They’re shot on their streets. Look at Chicago." He then cited false statistics describing how many African Americans live in poverty. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 26 percent of all African-Americans live in poverty.
Finally, Trump was questioned about the alt-right movement that largely supports his candidacy. His new campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, the Breitbart chief, has spoken approvingly of his site's ability to cultivate the movement.
When asked if he was embracing the alt-right movement Trump said, "I don’t even know what -- nobody even knows what it is.... All I’m embracing is common sense."
He added that he didn't know what Bannon had said. "All I can tell you, I can only speak from myself."