Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) declared “nothing has changed” when asked about Donald Trump’s position on illegal immigration.
Partial transcript as fallows:
TAPPER: So, Mr. Trump has been saying that on, day one, the violent undocumented immigrants will be — will leave the country. But what about the rest? What happens to the other 11 or so million, however many there are? Will there be a deportation force removing these individuals from the United States?
PENCE: Well, first off, let’s be very clear first off. Nothing has changed about Donald Trump’s position on dealing with illegal immigration. He put this issue at the center of this presidential campaign in the Republican primaries. And his position and his principles have been absolutely consistent. We’re going to secure the border. We’re going to build a wall, have a physical barrier. We’re going to enforce the laws of this country, end sanctuary cities, implement E-Verify. And we will have a mechanism for dealing with people in this country that — you heard the word humanely again. It is going to be fair. It is going to be tough. But there will be no path to legalization, no path to citizenship unless people leave the country. He has said that very consistently, the contrast with Hillary Clinton, who supports amnesty, open borders, who wants to implement executive amnesty again on day one, even though the Supreme Court of the United States rejected it, and Hillary Clinton, who wants to increase refugees from the terrorist-torn country of Syria by 550 percent.
PENCE: The choice couldn’t be more clear for the American people. Donald Trump has been completely consistent in his positions, Jake.
TAPPER: Except on this issue. I understand everything you’re saying there. But the one issue that you didn’t really address is whether or not the 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants will be removed by a deportation force, as you heard Mr. Trump say in that clip from November of last year. Is that policy still operative?
PENCE: Well, what you heard him describe there, in his usual plainspoken, American way, was a mechanism, not a policy. I mean, you’re going to hear more detail in next two weeks that lays out all the policies. But there will be no change in the principle here that Donald Trump wants to make it clear to the American people that, while Hillary Clinton is committed to open borders, and amnesty, and executive amnesty, and more of the same that has really harmed our economy, and, frankly, as he said, with regard to dangerous individuals in this country, has cost American lives. I — when I was in Iowa, I met with Sarah Root’s family. The heartbreak of Sarah Root’s story and other stories of families whose children have lost their lives to people who are in this country, dangerous individuals who are caught up in this broken system and then escape justice, as the man that claimed her life did, it’s going to end under an administration of Donald Trump.
TAPPER: I get that that the violent illegal immigrants will be removed from the country. But what I am not hearing and I am wondering, for people out there — and, look, it’s not just the liberal media, right? It’s also conservatives. It’s Rush Limbaugh. It’s Governor Sarah Palin. It’s other people who want Donald Trump to win who are saying, wow, it sounds like he is really backing away from this deportation force…
TAPPER: … removing 11 million.And you’re not saying — right now, Governor, you’re not saying, you’re not pledging that there will be a removal of all undocumented immigrants. You are not saying that.
PENCE: No. What I am saying, Jake, and what I have said to you a minute ago — and I want to be very clear — there will be no path to legalization.
PENCE: No path to citizenship. People that want to gain legal status, you heard Donald Trump say again and again, will have to leave the country.
TAPPER: Right, but what about the millions in this country right now? What happens to them?
PENCE: Well, I think Donald Trump will articulate what we do with the people who are here. But I promise you…
TAPPER: Well, he already has articulated it.
PENCE: … Donald Trump is more concerned about the American people, American citizens, people who are here legally, people that are struggling in this economy. You got a family in Ohio, that the dad is working two jobs and mom has a side job and they’re trying to make ends meet. They haven’t seen their real personal income go up in 10 to 15 years. And this flood of illegal immigration has contributed mightily to depressing wages in this country and denying jobs and opportunities to Americans.
TAPPER: That’s why I am asking.
PENCE: And Donald Trump is going to focus — I know the media wants to focus on that one issue. Donald Trump will articulate a policy about how we deal with that population. But I promise you, he is going to remain completely focused on American citizens…
PENCE: … and people who are here legally, and how we get this country working for people who play by the rules.
TAPPER: I don’t understand why — I don’t understand why it’s the fault of the media for focusing on an issue that you’re crediting Donald Trump for bringing to the fore.
TAPPER: The idea is, Mr. Trump won the primaries in no small way because he had this very forceful position, saying all 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants will be forced to leave the country. Now you, right this minute, are not saying that that’s the policy. You’re saying he’s going to unveiling it in the next few weeks. It’s 72 days until the election.
PENCE: Well, I — you — the way you characterize his position is one thing. I think he has been completely…
TAPPER: I just — we just ran the clip.
PENCE: Look, Jake, he has been completely consistent in the principles that he has articulated. Nobody was talking about illegal immigration when Donald Trump entered this campaign. He was attacked from day one for putting the whole issue of the violence that is derived from certain individuals that come into this country illegally on the table. He has made it clear we are going to secure our borders, we’re going to build a wall, we’re going to enforce the laws of this country, stand up and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. But what you see going on right now — and I think, at a certain level, it’s very refreshing, because it’s the Donald Trump that I see every day — is, you see a CEO at work. You see someone who is engaging the American people, listening to the American people. He is hearing from all sides. But I promise you, he is a decisive leader. He will stand on the principles that have underpinned his commitment to end illegal immigration in this country. And that’s what people will learn more about in the days ahead. But let’s be clear.
PENCE: Hillary Clinton supports open borders, amnesty and even wants to increase Syrian refugees to this country by 550 percent.
PENCE: You couldn’t have a more clear choice between Donald Trump and I, who will end illegal immigration in this country, and — and Hillary Clinton, who will pursue more of the same, executive amnesty, open borders, which the American people are sick and tired of.
TAPPER: To be clear, you did not address the issue about whether or not there will be a deportation force removing the 11 or 12 million. But I don’t want to spend the entire interview on that one subject. Let’s turn to the children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants. Donald Trump said last year that these children — it’s about 4.5 million of them — are not citizens. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don’t think they have American citizenship. We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Is it still the position of the Trump/Pence campaign that children born in this country, in this country, to undocumented immigrants are not U.S. citizens?
PENCE: Well, I think the whole question of anchor babies, as it’s known, the whole question of citizenship, of natural-born Americans is a subject for the future. I think the American people ought to ask it. We look at our whole immigration system and see whether that works and makes sense. But under the laws today in the United States of America — I think what Donald Trump was referring to is, this is part of the issue that we need to deal with in this country. But, look, I have to tell you, he is a — he is a man who speaks his mind. And he has put this issue front and center with the American people. And I have to tell you, I — I know how the media loves to come in and loves to, you know, divide the issues and — and, frankly, I think, not you personally, Jake, but a lot like to see if they can drive wedges between people that support Donald Trump.
PENCE: The truth of the matter is, as I am traveling across the country, and — and with Donald Trump and for Donald Trump, the American people hear him loud and clear. Hillary Clinton is committed to amnesty and open borders and more of the policies that have harmed our economy, harmed American families and, in some cases, resulted in tragedy. Donald Trump is absolutely committed to securing our borders, having E-Verify system, standing by the Constitution, and reforming the immigration system in a way that works for American family.
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