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Before His Mass Deportation Plan, Trump Said Some Undocumented Immigrants Should Stay

When considering a presidential run in 2011, Trump said each person should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Posted on January 29, 2016, at 1:16 p.m. ET

William Edwards / AFP / Getty Images

Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the deportation of all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, but in a 2011 television interview, Trump said that he supported allowing some immigrants to stay in the country based on their background and references.

Trump appeared on the O'Reilly Factor in April 2011, in the midst of his flirtation with a presidential run in 2012. In the interview, O'Reilly pressed Trump on what he would do with the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

“Do you give them a pathway to citizenship? Or do you put them on a bus and drive ‘em out of here?” O’Reilly asked.

“I think right now you’re gonna have to do something, and, you know, it’s hard to generalize, but you’re gonna have to look at the individual people,” Trump said, “see how they’ve done, see how productive they’ve been, see what their references are, then make a decision.”

Some of Trump’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination have criticized the businessman's current mass deportation plan. During a GOP debate in November, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said it was a “silly” argument, while Jeb Bush said the proposal went against American values.

Trump, who in the past has called Mexicans crossing the border are “rapists” who are bringing crime and drugs into the U.S., disagreed, saying he would create an "immigration force" and pointed to an Eisenhower-era policy that deported more than a million immigrants.

In 2011, however, when O’Reilly pointed out looking at each individual on a case-by-case basis would be extremely time consuming, Trump agreed, but said it was worth it.

“You know, you have some great productive people that came [here],” Trump said, before concluding, “And then you have some total disasters that should probably be in prison.”

Watch the interview below: