Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump met with his National Hispanic Advisory Council over the weekend, resulting in one of those in attendance suggesting the candidate had reversed course on a key campaign pledge.
"I really liked that Trump acknowledged that there is a big problem with the 11 million [undocumented] people who are here, and that deporting them is neither possible nor humane," Jacob Monty, a Texas immigration lawyer who was at the meeting, to Univision. "The candidate also said he would announce a way to give them [legal] status that wouldn't be citizenship but would allow them to be here without fear of deportation."
A short time later, he told BuzzFeed: "He said people who are here is the toughest part of the immigration debate, that it must be something that respects border security but deals with this in a humane and efficient manner."
Perhaps Monty misunderstood what he heard, or perhaps he was trying to advance his own agenda by going to two receptive news outlets. Regardless, several other participants in the meeting refuted his version.
"Mr. Trump did not say he was in favor of legalization," Helen Aguirre-Ferre, the Republican National Committee's Hispanic Outreach Coordinator and Hispanic Communications Director, who attended the meeting on behalf of the GOP, later told Breitbart News. "What Mr. Trump said was very clear ...
"Some folks talked about legalization, not citizenship, for the undocumented, Mr. Trump did not say he was in favor of legalization. Some folks may have felt that he was open to it, and he gave zero indication of that."
Aguirre-Ferre is hardly an apologist for Trump. In her previous role, working on the campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, she advocated for amnesty for illegals. She even went so far as to say not doing so would be "an affront to the rule of law."
Steven Cheung, the Trump campaign's rapid-response director, said the Republican nominee "said nothing today that he hasn't said many times before ... enforce our immigration laws, uphold the Constitution, and be fair and humane while putting American workers first." He further described the meeting as "productive and enlightening," and said the GOP candidate plans to speak with the group again soon.
"The RNC joins the Trump campaign in recognizing the diverse group of Hispanic leaders who are generously giving of their time and talent to be a part of the National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in an official statement following the meeting. "Their participation is just one component of our expansive effort to engage the Hispanic community, and their contributions will help us compete for every vote in every community all the way through Election Day."
Trump himself weighed in on the matter Monday during an appearance on FOX News Channel. He said he will have a "really fair but firm answer" to the immigration issue, but didn't elaborate.
He is expected to address immigration during a speech in Colorado on Thursday.
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