Donald Trump backtracks on softer immigration stance: "There is no path to legalization"

Donald Trump backtracks on softer immigration stance: "There is no path to legalization"
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Donald Trump on Thursday said there will be no path to legalization for undocumented immigrants "unless people leave the country," re-iterating his hard-line immigration stance amid allegations that he had flip-flopped on one of his signature campaign issues.

"No there's not a path to legalization unless people leave the country," Trump told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Anderson 360. "If they come back in, and then they have to start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and come back."

Trump's comments come one day after he told Fox News' Sean Hannity that there could be "a softening" on his immigration stance, saying "to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough."

The Republican presidential nominee was roundly criticized from all sides for his comment to Hannity.

Moderate Republicans said Trump flip-flopped to support an immigration policy that Trump attacked his now-former GOP primary opponents for holding.

Anti-immigration conservatives said Trump's flip-flop was a betrayal. Even former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called Trump's comment "wishy washy."

But Trump appeared to re-iterate his support of deporting the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in his interview with Cooper, who asked Trump whether undocumented immigrants who have established families and jobs in the United States will be kicked out.

"We will have a real wall and tremendous protection and ... then we're going to see what happens," Trump said. "But there is a very good chance the answer could be yes."

Hillary Clinton's campaign said Trump's interview with Cooper proved that Trump still holds a hard-line immigration stance they say is "dangerous."

"Donald Trump reinforced today that he would deport 16 million people, including every undocumented immigrant and American citizens born here to undocumented parents," Hillary for America Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement. "Confirming what we've seen from the start of his campaign: Donald Trump will be Donald Trump. No one can change his hateful rhetoric or dangerous policies to send a deportation force into American communities."