U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offered fresh details of how he would tackle illegal immigration on Saturday, saying he would crack down on those who overstay their visas as he sought to quiet criticism from conservatives.
In a campaign speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Trump also cited the shooting death of a cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade to urge African-American voters to rally behind him, calling it an example of violence that has to be addressed.
Trump, speaking on the Iowa State Fairgrounds with hay bales stacked behind him, sought to clarify his views on how to overhaul the U.S. immigration system after saying earlier in the week that he was softening on his plan to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants.
That stance drew fire from conservatives who wanted him to stand fast after he won the Republican presidential nomination in large part by a hardline stance that would include building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
In his speech, Trump said he would seek to institute a tracking system to ensure illegal immigrants who overstay their visas are quickly removed, and would propose an e-verify system to prevent the illegal community from gaining access to welfare and other benefits.
"If we don’t enforce visa expiration dates, then we have an open border – it’s as simple as that," he said.
In outlining his views, Trump said addressing illegal immigration is important to helping Americans find 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 said his first priority upon taking office next January would be the immediate deportation of thousands of illegal immigrants who remain in the United States despite having committed crimes.
"These international gangs and cartels will be a thing of the past. Their reign of terror will be over. In this task, we will always err on the side of protecting the American people – we will use immigration law to prevent crimes, and will not wait until some innocent American has been harmed or killed before taking action," he said.
He did not explain how his plan would affect many of the illegal community who have been in the United States for decades and obeyed U.S. laws.