WASHINGTON - A top aide to Donald Trump said on Sunday the Republican presidential nominee's plans to deport 11 million people who are in the United States illegally were a work in progress and that he was committed to a "fair and humane" approach on immigration.
The comments suggested a softening of the hardline immigration policy that Trump has put at the center of his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton for the Nov. 8 general election.
"What he supports is to make sure we enforce the law, we are respectful of those Americans who are looking for well-paying jobs and that we are fair and humane to those who live among us in this country," Kellyanne Conway, Trump's newly appointed campaign manager, told CNN.
Appearing on the talk show "State of the Union," Conway was pressed on whether Trump's plans would include a "deportation force" that the candidate previously pledged to set up.
"To be determined," she replied.
Conway's comments came after Trump announced last week a major reshuffling of his campaign. Trump promoted Conway, who had been a senior adviser, to the role of campaign manager and hired Stephen Bannon, head of the Breitbart News website, as campaign chief executive.
The Trump campaign said on Friday that campaign chairman Paul Manafort was resigning.
The campaign's new leadership combines Bannon, a combative conservative, with Conway, a data-driven analyst who has been trying to broaden Trump's appeal to women and independent voters.
The campaign has also begun reaching out to black and Hispanic voters, with whom Trump is unpopular, according to opinion polls. Critics have accused him of stoking xenophobia with his call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and a proposal to temporarily ban the entry of Muslims into the United States.
He vowed at a campaign rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Saturday to return the Republican Party to the values of President Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation and signing of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution during the U.S. Civil War helped lead to the abolition of slavery in 1865.
Earlier on Saturday in New York, Trump met with a group of Hispanic leaders as part of a new National Hispanic Advisory Council to the campaign.