Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump backed away farther from his hardline stance on deporting millions of illegal immigrants, saying in remarks broadcast on Wednesday he would be willing to work with those who have followed U.S. laws while living in the country.
Trump's comments came in the second part of an interview conducted on Tuesday with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity. They signaled a further softening in his immigration position as he girds for a battle against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election and faces pressure to bolster support among moderate voters and minority groups.
Trump, who defeated 16 rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in part based on his opposition to illegal immigrants, said he would not permit American citizenship for the undocumented population and would expel lawbreakers.
To qualify to remain in the United States, Trump said, illegal immigrants would have to pay back taxes.
"No citizenship. Let me go a step further - they'll pay back taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them," Trump said.
"But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me ... and they've said: 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,'" Trump said. "It's a very hard thing."
Trump said he would outline his position soon.
"Well, I'm going to announce something over the next two weeks, but it's going to be a very firm policy," Trump told WPEC, a CBS affiliate in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump's new position seemed to resemble in some respects the failed 2007 reform push by former Republican President George W. Bush. That effort offered a way to bring millions "out of the shadows" without amnesty and would have required illegal immigrants to pay a fine and take other steps to gain legal status.