Donald Trump's 'Softening' on Immigration Is His Latest Flip-Flop

Taxes, guns, Syrian refugees and abortion are a few of the others.

ByABC News
August 24, 2016, 11:04 AM

— -- The list of flip-flops that Donald Trump has made since descending an escalator in his namesake tower last year and into the presidential campaign continues to grow.

In the latest instance, he has described his change in tone on immigration as a "softening" of a stance he previously touted rather than a complete reversal.

Other issues on which he had different feelings before the presidential campaign include abortion and assault rifles. But the bigger surprises have come after he announced one stance early in the presidential campaign and then switched his position.

Here is a review of some of his most notable reversals.

His 'Softening' on Immigration

Trump has spoken throughout the campaign about his plans for a "deportation force," but his campaign staff has indicated in recent days that such plans may not come to fruition exactly as previously described.

In November he mentioned a possible force to target unauthorized immigrants.

"You are going to have a deportation force, and you are going to do it humanely," he said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Now Trump has signaled that he's adjusting his position.

"There certainly can be a softening, because we're not looking to hurt people," he said during a Fox News town hall event Tuesday, Aug. 23.

"We want people — we have some great people in this country. We have some great, great people in this country. But, so, we're going to follow the laws of this country. What people don't realize — we have very, very strong laws," Trump said.

His comments stand in stark contrast to one of the more controversial portions of his presidential announcement in June 2015, when he said, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

His 'Sarcasm' About Obama's Being the Founder of ISIS

After repeated assertions that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were "the founders of ISIS," Trump reversed his position in a tweet earlier this month.

Before posting the tweet, Trump insisted over and over that he had meant literally that Obama founded the terrorist organization.

"I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They are the founders," Trump said at a National Association of Home Builders event in Miami on Aug. 11.

"He is the founder in a true sense," he said at a Florida rally later that night.

And when pressed to clarify in interviews that day, Trump insisted that he said what he meant.

Pressed on whether he actually meant that Obama created the vacuum that led to ISIS, he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, "No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS. I do."

"I meant exactly that. He's the founder of ISIS," Trump told the Miami NBC affiliate Thursday night when asked what he meant by the comment.

Looser Wording on the Temporary Muslim Ban

On Dec. 7, Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

Over the preceding five months, he talked about a "Muslim ban" extensively during campaign stops and hinted at various possible exceptions, including U.S. citizens who are Muslim, his wealthy Muslim friends from overseas and foreign leaders.

Trump told Fox News in May that the "temporary ban ... hasn't been called for yet. Nobody's done it. This is just a suggestion until we find out what's going on."

Taxes on the Rich: To Raise or Not to Raise?

Trump has spent time this week adjusting his language when it comes to specifics on his tax reform plan.

The plan, which was initially released in September, had the nation's wealthiest earners seeing their income tax rate dropping from the current 39.6 percent to 25 percent.

His comments on the topic in subsequent interviews, however, have caused some confusion.

"They will go up a little bit," Trump said in a May 8 interview on ABC News' "This Week."

"No, no, on my plan, they're going down. But by the time it's negotiated, they'll go up. Look, what I'm negotiating with the Democrats, I'm putting in a plan. I'm putting in my optimum plan. It's going to be negotiated," he said.

"By the time it gets negotiated, it's going to be a different plan. That's what I'd like to get, and we'll fight for it. But from a practical standpoint, it's going to get renegotiated. And in my opinion, the taxes for the rich will go up somewhat."


Even though Trump has told supporters, "I don't want your money" and repeatedly said his campaign is "self-funded," that hasn't stopped the real estate mogul's campaign from taking in millions in cash from individual donors.

Aside from the individual donations, he has also made it clear that he won't be entirely self-reliant for the general election.

"I'll be putting up money but won't be completely self-funding, as I did during the primaries," Trump told The Wall Street Journal in May.


Trump was endorsed by the National Rifle Association and has repeatedly said he would not attempt to tinker with the Second Amendment, which guarantees citizens the right to bear arms, saying that Hillary Clinton "wants to abolish it."

"We're going to preserve it. We're going to cherish it. We're going to take care of it," he said in a speech at the NRA's national convention in May.

In spite of that, he has also repeatedly suggested that there should be some reforms, including an effort to stop people on the terrorist watch list from being able to get guns.

"If somebody is on a watch list and an enemy of state and we know it's an enemy of state, I would keep them away, absolutely," he said during an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in November.

Trump went back on that later in a GOP primary debate hosted by Fox News, when he responded "no" when asked whether there are "any circumstances that you think we should be limiting gun sales of any kind in America."

Now, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting and the endorsement he received from the NRA, he says he wants to meet with the gun-rights group to discuss possible ways to prevent people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns.


The quickest reversal came before the Wisconsin primary, when Trump was asked about his stance on abortion.

He said he had changed his beliefs on the controversial issue in the years leading up to the campaign, but more recently he made a 180-degree turn regarding comments about whether a woman who sought an abortion should be punished.

The question came up during a taped MSNBC town hall, when host Chris Matthews repeatedly pressed Trump about whether he thought there should be "some form of punishment." Trump finally said, "For the woman? Yeah."

That put him in the unenviable position of being criticized from both the right and the left.

The campaign first released a statement from Trump that read, "This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions, which I have outlined numerous times."

Trump later released a statement reversing the most controversial portion of the comments he made during the MSNBC taping.

The second statement read, "If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman."

The Minimum Wage: To Raise or Not to Raise?

During the fourth prime-time Republican primary debate, Trump was asked whether he plans to raise the minimum wage, and he replied, "I would not do it," which was met with applause.

Six months later, during an interview on ABC News' "This Week," he said he is "looking at it, and I haven't decided in terms of numbers. But I think that people have to get more."

"Well, sure it's a change. I'm allowed to change. You need flexibility," he said.

Accepting Syrian Refugees

In early September, Trump said that he would support asylum for refugees from Syria, given the circumstances in the country.

"I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, you have to," he said during an interview on "The O'Reilly Factor" Sept. 8. "But you know, it's living in hell in Syria. There's no question about it. They're living in hell, and something has to be done."

About three weeks later, during an event in Keene, New Hampshire, Trump reversed course, saying, "I'm putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration that if I win, if I win, they're going back."

ABC News' John Santucci, Candace Smith and Ryan Struyk contributed to this report.