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Donald Trump To Deliver Immigration Speech In Arizona

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Trump's meeting with Enrique Pena Nieto is the latest example of just how rapidly things change in the campaign. This time yesterday, everyone was focused on what Trump is doing this very hour. He's delivering what's being billed as a major speech on his immigration policy. Trump's appearance in Phoenix, Ariz., comes after two weeks of contradiction and confusion about how a President Trump would deal with the estimated 11 million immigrants already living in this country illegally.

NPR political reporter Scott Detrow is in Phoenix. Scott, why is this speech that Trump is giving this evening so critical for him?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: That's because he's made it a critical for himself by what he's said and what he hasn't said over the last few weeks. Trump has created a lot of uncertainty on where he stands on immigration, and you know, that's been the key issue of his campaign all along. He's been really consistent all along on a lot of things like wanting to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But over the last few weeks, Trump has said a lot of contradictory and sometimes vague things about what to do about the millions of people who are here illegally already but who haven't broken any other laws.

Throughout the primary, he had said he'd push to deport them all right away, as logistically challenging as that would be. But over the last few weeks, Trump at times has said he'd be open to softening his stance. That's his words. At one point he floated the idea of allowing people to stay if they pay their back taxes. And Trump has been promising to clear everything up in a big speech, and that speech is happening tonight.

SIEGEL: Now, Trump alluded to building a wall in his comments in Mexico today, but when he was asked about whether the question of Mexico paying for the wall came up, he said that was not discussed. Do we still think he stands by that demand that Mexico will pay for the wall?

DETROW: Well, that's something Trump has said day in, day out throughout the campaign. It's usually the biggest applause line of his appearances. He asks the crowd, who's going to pay for the wall? And they chant, Mexico. Actually after Trump left Mexico City today, President Pena Nieto tweeted that he had told Trump that Mexico would not pay for the wall.

The Trump campaign put out a statement afterwards saying that this was not a negotiation, that a negotiation at this time wouldn't be appropriate and that it makes sense in a meeting like that two sides would have two different views - so very anxious to hear what Donald Trump says about the disparity when he speaks tonight.

SIEGEL: Well, any hints from the Trump campaign about what he might say tonight?

DETROW: We've had a couple statements from Trump campaign. They're focusing on securing the border, repeating that promise to build a wall. They've also talked about enforcing the existing law and talking about removing people in the country who are here illegally who have committed crimes.

Those are all things Trump has tried to shift the conversation to over the last few weeks when he's been pressed on what he would do about the 11 million people estimated to be here illegally. And, Robert, you may have noticed that particular issue was not addressed in these statements that have come out today.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Scott Detrow in Phoenix where Donald Trump is speaking about immigration this evening. Scott, thanks.

DETROW: Anytime. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.