On Saturday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump held a meeting with his new Hispanic advisory council, BuzzFeed reported, in which the candidate indicated he was open to a "humane and efficient" answer to undocumented immigration into the U.S. — and possibly to a pathway to legal status for people already living here.
That's a huge switch from Trump's longstanding promises to build a wall along the Southern border and kick the undocumented immigrants already living here out with a "deportation force."
His team is offering little clarity. Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Republican political consultant who joined the team in a recent Trump campaign shakeup which saw former campaign lead Paul Manafort replaced with Breitbart executive Stephen Bannon, declined to take a firm position on the issue Sunday. According to Conway, the status of the deportation force is "to be determined."
On CNN's State of the Union, anchorwoman Dana Bash played a clip of Trump saying "We're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely ... they're going back where they came ... that's the way it's supposed to be," before asking Conway whether he still supported such a force.
"What he supports is to make sure we enforce the law, that we are respectful of those Americans who are looking for jobs, and that we are fair and humane to those who live among us," Conway said. When Bash asked her for a firm answer on whether Trump's evolving thoughts on immigration still included a "deportation force," Conway responded, "to be determined."
What may already be determined is Trump's poor showing among Latino voters. In a recent Fox News Latino poll, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton held a 46% lead over Trump with registered Latinos, who went for Clinton over Trump 66%-20%. More broadly, Trump seems to have further damaged the Republican Party brand with Latinos, who have swung away from the GOP since 2012.