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Trump: U.S. should accept ‘tremendous numbers’ of legal immigrants based on merit

Donald Trump mused about accepting immigrants to the United States using a "merit system" during a campaign rally in Pensacola, Fla. (Video: The Washington Post)

PENSACOLA, Fla. — After months of declaring that he would curtail legal and illegal immigration, Donald Trump proclaimed at a campaign rally on Wednesday night that as president he would allow “tremendous numbers” of legal immigrants based on a “merit system.”

“I want people to come in. I want tremendous numbers of people to come in,” Trump said at a rally here, his third campaign stop in Florida on Wednesday. “And we’re going to have that big, beautiful door in the wall. But you know what? They have to come in through a process. They have to come in legally.”

Trump was then cut off by loud cheers from the crowd and many of his supporters shouting: “Legally!”

“They have to come in legally,” Trump said, continuing. “And we’ll have merit involved, too. Wouldn’t it be nice if we went a little bit on the merit system? We take people that are really going to help us to grow our country? Wouldn’t that be nice? Somebody said: 'You can’t say that; that’s not politically correct.' Well, I just said it, folks.”

This isn't the first time Trump has called for an immigration merit system, although the idea is not a regular part of his campaign speeches. It's unclear what sort of “merit” Trump would weigh. His campaign has yet to respond to a request for more information.