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Is Donald Trump shifting on immigration behind closed doors?


Donald Trump. Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Donald Trump distinguished himself in a crowded Republican presidential field last year with his tough talk on immigration. He vowed build a wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for it, deport millions of undocumented immigrants and pause the inflow of refugees from the Middle East.

But a new report from Buzzfeed suggests Trump may be softening his rhetoric on his signature issue, at least behind closed doors:

In a meeting with his newly announced Hispanic advisory council, Donald Trump suggested he is interested in figuring out a “humane and efficient” manner to deal with immigrants in the country illegally, according to three sources, while stressing that it will still be in line with the border security-focused approach that has invited intense opposition from Latinos and immigrants since he launched his campaign.

“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,” said Jacob Monty, a Houston-based immigration lawyer who sat in Trump Tower with other Latino supporters and Trump.

The report came in stark contrast to remarks Trump made at a rally here in eastern Virginia on Saturday evening that essentially served as a greatest hits of his immigration proposals.

The Republican nominee slammed rival Hillary Clinton's stance on admitting Middle Eastern refugees, discussed his proposed border wall and even threw in barbs against Tim Kaine, Clinton's running mate and a former Virginia governor.

“He oversaw a huge increase in illegal immigration,” Trump said of Kaine’s tenure in Richmond, adding that "thousands" of undocumented people have been placed in Virginia in recent years.

"You don’t know who they are, where they come from. Even our  government officials know nothing about them for the most part," he said.

Immigration was also the topic Trump chose to focus on in his first television ad of the election cycle, which was released yesterday:

Speaking of Saturday's Buzzfeed report, it wasn't the first time Trump has been accused of saying one thing in public and another in private on immigration.

Rival Ted Cruz seized on another report from Buzzfeed earlier this year about Trump's off-the-record meeting with the New York Times' editorial board in which he reportedly indicated he may not stand by some of his immigration pledges.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.