US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Saturday that if elected his first priority would be to deport thousands of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.
“On day one, I am going to begin swiftly removing criminal illegal immigrants from this country — including removing the hundreds of thousands of criminal illegal immigrants that have been released into US communities under the Obama-Clinton administration,” Trump said in Des Moines, Iowa.
Adding new details of how he would tackle illegal immigration, Trump told supporters in the swing state that he would establish a tracking system to deport illegal immigrants who overstay and set up an e-verify system to ensure they do not receive welfare or other benefits.
“If we don’t enforce visa expiration dates, then we have an open border – it’s as simple as that,” he said.
Trump has so far provided few concrete plans on how he would deal with immigration, except for his idea to build a wall along the Mexican border. With only 72 days before the election, Trump has sought to expand beyond his core support base and attack his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
His comments in Iowa come after he came under criticism from conservatives by suggesting earlier this week that he would soften plans to deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
Trump also sought to tie illegal immigration to protecting American jobs.
“Every time an African-American citizen, or any citizen, loses their job to an illegal immigrant, the rights of that American citizen have been violated,” he said. “Equal protection under the law must include the consistent application of our immigration laws.”
Trump has recently sought to court the African-American vote, a traditional bastion of the Democrats, by attacking Clinton on racial issues and arguing he will bring jobs and prosperity to black communities unlike the Democrats.