The Corner

The Return of Touch-Back Amnesty?

Trump seemed to walk-back his Hannity interview on CNN tonight, sounding tougher again and reviving his proposal for a touch-back amnesty (i.e., we deport you or you leave, then we let you back in):

“There’s no path to legalization unless they leave the country,” Trump said after an event in Manchester, New Hampshire. “When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and then come back.”

Trump said that on his first day in office, he would authorize law enforcement to actively deport “bad dudes,” such as those who have committed crimes, which he said numbered “probably millions.” But he declined to flatly say whether he would round up other undocumented immigrants, stressing that once the initial deportations occur, “then we can talk.”

“There is a very good chance the answer could be yes,” Trump said when asked if he would deport those who have lived here peacefully but without papers. “We’re going to see what happens.”

Of all the amnesty proposals, touch-back perhaps makes the least sense. If you are going to legalize someone, why go through the charade of making him leave? Also, Trump’s “very good chance” answer–as well as most of that has been said over the last few days–suggests that he has multiple people with different views on the merits and the politics of this issue in his ear and he simply can’t decide where to come down.