Only a few hours after meeting in Mexico City with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Donald Trump announced an immigration plan Wednesday in Arizona anchored by "a great wall along the Southern border" — that Mexico will pay for — a zero-tolerance policy for criminal illegals and no legalization or amnesty for as many as 11 million aliens in the United States.
"Mexico will pay for the wall," Trump told a cheering crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center. "Hundred percent.
"They don't know it yet, but they're going to pay for the wall," he said. "They're great people and great leaders, but they're going to pay for the wall."
He repeated the assertion on Twitter Thursday morning.
Trump also doubled down on many of his previous immigration policies, vowing to create a "deportation task force" within U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement that would include a tripling of enforcement officers and the hiring of 5,000 more border patrol agents.
He said the new task force would be "focused on identifying and quickly removing the dangerous criminal illegal immigrants in America who have evaded justice, just like Hillary Clinton has evaded justice.
"Maybe, they'll be able to deport her," Trump said.
The Republican nominee's long-awaited speech followed a meeting in Mexico City with President Peña Nieto, after which Trump said that he was interested in "improving" NAFTA and that the U.S. had a "right … to build a physical barrier or wall on any of its borders."
His remarks also came after more than a year of fiery rhetoric slamming Hispanics and illegal immigrants, vowing to build a wall on the U.S. border — and having Mexico pay for it — and promising to create a "deportation force" to remove more than 11 million aliens from the United States.
In recent weeks, however, Trump has been accused of softening his position — though the nominee last week ruled out legalization and amnesty and reiterated his pledge to build the wall.
The core objective of Trump’s immigration policy was that the United States has the "right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.
"We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate," Trump told supporters at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona. "Sometimes it is not going to work out.
"If we're going to make our immigration system work, then we have to be prepared to talk honestly and without fear about these important and very sensitive issues.
"We have to listen to the concerns that working people, our forgotten working people, have about the record pace of immigration and its impact on their jobs, wages, housing, schools, tax bills and general living conditions."
Other core elements of Trump's 10-point plan include ending ICE's catch-and-release policy for illegals at the border; implementing "extreme vetting"; suspending visa applications from countries — Syria and Libya, for instance — where screening is insufficient; and creating a visa tracking system to prevent overstays.
Trump also plans to create a nationwide e-verify system that would also bar illegals from obtaining public benefits; revoke President Barack Obama's executive immigration actions; and renegotiate the North American Free-Trade Agreement.
"This election is our last chance to secure the border, stop illegal immigration and reform our laws to make your life better," Trump said. "I really believe this is it. This is our last time."
For the illegals already in the United States, Trump declared that their only option is to return to their native countries and apply for citizenship.
"Those who leave under this system, they'll have to apply under the terms and limits that will be applied in the future," he said. "We will break the cycle of amnesty and illegal immigration.
"There will be no amnesty," he added.
"Our message to the world will be this: You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country.
"This declaration alone will help stop the crisis of illegal crossings and illegal overstays very importantly.
"Now is the time for all of us as one country — Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative — to band together to deliver justice and safety and security for all Americans," Trump later said. "Let's fix this horrible, horrible problem.
"It can be fixed quickly."
Reaction was swift across the political spectrum as conservatives like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity applauded the speech while liberals denounced it.
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