Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump on Friday hinted at a “merit system” for some of the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the country while saying that “we take the bad ones and get ‘em the hell out.”
After his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, Mr. Trump had been asked what he would do with the illegal immigrants already in the United States and said the border has to be secured first.
Mr. Trump said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” it’s “the big question.”
“And really, a bigger question is I don’t think the 11 million, which is a number you’ve been hearing for many, many years — I’ve been hearing that number for five years — I don’t think that’s an accurate number anymore because I’m now hearing it’s 30 million [and] could even be 34 million. Which is a much bigger problem,” he said.
Asked who he’s hearing that from, Mr. Trump said: “I’m hearing it from other people and I’ve seen it written in various newspapers. The truth is the government has no idea how many illegals are here. They have no idea. It’s a tremendous number of people.”
“Well, the first thing we do is take the bad ones of which there are, unfortunately, quite a few,” he said. “We take the bad ones and get ‘em the hell out. We get ‘em out. We give ‘em back to Mexico or we make sure they stay — or where they come from. Because they don’t all come from Mexico. They come from other places. They use that border but they come from other places. We get ‘em out and get ‘em out fast. And we get ‘em out permanently. That’s a big thing.”
He said there are “hundreds and hundreds” of cases like that of Kate Steinle in San Francisco. The man accused of killing Steinle earlier this month, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, had previously been deported five times.
“Then the other ones — and I’m a very big believer in merit system,” he said. “I have to tell you … some of these people have been here, they’ve done a good job. You know, in some cases, sadly, they’ve been living under the shadows, etc., etc. We have to do something. So whether it’s merit or whether it’s whatever, but I’m a believer in the merit system. If somebody’s been outstanding, we try and work something out. But before we do anything, we have to secure the border because the border is like having no border.”
• David Sherfinski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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