During last night's Republican debate, Donald Trump repeatedly changed track on immigrations policies that have been central to his campaign.
For a start, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Trump about his comments in favor of skilled worker visas at the previous debate:
KELLY: Mr. Trump, your campaign website to this day argues that more visas for highly skilled workers would, quote, 'decimate American workers.' However, at the CNBC debate, you spoke enthusiastically in favor of these visas. So, which is it?," Kelly asked.
TRUMP: I'm changing. I'm changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can't do it, we'll get them in. But, and we do need in Silicon Valley, we absolutely have to have.
So, we do need highly skilled, and one of the biggest problems we have is people go to the best colleges. They'll go to Harvard, they'll go to Stanford, they'll go to Wharton, as soon as they're finished they'll get shoved out. They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately, they're not able to stay here. For that purpose, we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power in this country.
KELLY: So you're abandoning the position on your website …
TRUMP: … I'm changing it, and I'm softening the position because we have to have talented people in this country.
In a separate story in The New York Times last month, the paper revealed that Trump hired mostly foreign workers at his Miami Mar-A-Lago resort. The majority of those workers are on temporary visas that have been criticized by both local staffing agencies (because they can cut into the available jobs for local candidates) and immigrant advocates (because they leave workers in a vulnerable position open to employer abuse).
The Times article said that 296 locals applied for jobs at the resort since 2010. In that time, the resort hired 17 local applicants and 500 workers from overseas, the paper reported.
Following the debate, Trump's campaign released the a statement saying Trump does not support H-1B visas (which are often issued to highly-skilled workers like foreign students who receive college degrees in the U.S. and stay on to work here for set periods of time):
Megyn Kelly asked about highly-skilled immigration. The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse and ending outrageous practices such as those that occurred at Disney in Florida when Americans were forced to train their foreign replacements. I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the H-1B visa program is used for U.S. companies "to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including but not limited to: scientists, engineers, or computer programmers."
Earlier in the debate, Kelly asked Trump about a BuzzFeed story suggesting Trump had told The New York Times off the record that he is "flexible" on immigration, including on his policy to deport all undocumented immigrants from the U.S.
Trump did not respond directly to the question of whether or not he would follow through with that policy, but re-iterated that he plans to build a wall on the Mexican border. "In terms of immigration and almost anything else there always has to be some tug and pull," he said. "You have to be able to have some flexibility, some negotiation."