In a campaign speech on Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa, US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offered fresh details of how he would tackle illegal immigration, saying he would crack down on those who overstay their visas as he sought to quiet criticism from conservatives.
Trump, speaking on the Iowa State Fairgrounds with hay bales stacked behind him, sought to clarify his views on how to overhaul the US 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 US 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2016
"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 told supporters in Des Moines, Iowa.
"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.
Details of Trump's immigration policies remain scant. He rallied much of his primary support with a controversial hardline tone against illegal immigrants and his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border.
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 US laws.
Some of his advisors are now reportedly urging him to tone down his signature policy priority.
The New York businessman was the headline speaker at "Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride," a charity event for military veterans run by US Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican.
Ernst and most other speakers offered praise for Trump, a rarity at a time when many Republican political leaders have distanced themselves from his candidacy due to his incendiary rhetoric. Trump is running neck and neck with Clinton in polls in the state with 72 days until the Nov. 8 election.