Donald Trump showed Saturday that he was not retreating on illegal immigration by declaring in Iowa that "on day one, I'm going to begin swiftly removing criminal illegal immigrants from this country.
"We're going to send them back to where they came from," the Republican presidential nominee said at Sen. Joni Ernst's annual "Roast and Ride" event in Des Moines. "On this path, we will always err on the side of protecting American people.
"We will use immigration laws to prevent crimes — and we will not wait until some innocent American has been harmed or killed before taking action.
"We will move justly, but we will move fast, believe me, and we will move tough," Trump said.
The nominee's remarks came at the end of a week during which he was attacked by both conservatives and liberals who said he had softened his stance on immigration.
Trump rebuked the criticism, telling CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday that he was — in fact — "hardening" his position and that "there's no path to legalization unless people leave the country."
He also reiterated his pledge to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump told Fox News on Friday that he was presenting "a very comprehensive" immigration plan "in two weeks."
In going after criminal illegals, the nominee said in Des Moines that those included aliens who have been released into communities around the country under "the incompetent Obama-Clinton administration."
"These international gangs of thugs and drug cartels will be — I promise you — we're going to get rid of these people, day one, before the wall, before anything," Trump said.
"You go to some places and you will see that the reign of terror will be over — and it will be over fast."
He added that a Trump administration will "institute nationwide e-verify" to "stop illegal immigrants from accessing welfare and entitlements and develop an exit system to ensure that anyone who overstays their visas are quickly removed."
Trump also pledged to cancel President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration and slammed Democrat Hillary Clinton for supporting the president's policies.
"Most alarmingly, she has pledged to keep President Obama's executive amnesty, which has been blocked by the Supreme Court," Trump said. "Beyond that, she's pledged to add another executive amnesty in violation of both congressional law and the United States Constitution.
"These actions from Hillary Clinton will trigger a crisis greater than almost anything we've seen," he added. "This will be a constitutional crisis like we haven't seen in our country."
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