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Trump to meet Mexican president before Phoenix rally

Just hours before a cobbled-together trip to Phoenix for a speech on immigration, Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will meet with Mexico's president Enrique Peña Nieto. 

Mexico's president sent out a tweet in Spanish that he had invited both presidential candidates to the presidential palace in Mexico to discuss the bilateral relationship between the two nations, and on Wednesday Trump will visit. 

Peña wrote that he believes in dialogue to "promote the interests of Mexico in the world" and protect "Mexicans wherever they are." 

Hillary Clinton's campaign did not say whether the former Secretary of State will visit with Nieto, instead issuing a statement that said: "What ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions." 

Trump will visit with donors in California, and then fly to Mexico to meet with Nieto before returning to the United States for a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center beginning at 6 p.m. 

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions will join Trump, Bloomberg News reported. 

The meeting comes at an important time for Trump, who faces faltering poll numbers since late July and criticism after he announced last week that he was open to "softening" his immigration plan. 

This is a significant reversal from his previous hardline border policy, built on the promise to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border and the creation of a "deportation force" of federal agents who would remove around 11 million people in the country without authorization. 

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On August 23, Trump told a town hall audience Sean Hannity's show that "there could be a softening" in his immigration plan because "we're not looking to hurt people." Instead, his plan would focus on the "bad ones" but potentially allow some immigrants to stay in the country because deporting people could be "tough." 

Later that same day, Trump told Bill O'Reilly that "The first thing we’re going to do, if and when I win, is we’re going to get rid of all of the bad ones." This includes "gang members" and "killers" that will be removed from the country "so fast your head will spin." 

"We have existing laws that allow you to do that," Trump said before denying that he would send people to detention centers. 

This policy appears to mirror the current Homeland Security policy announced by President Barack Obama in November called Priority Enforcement. Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can select certain immigrants for prosecution and deportation while others are allowed to stay pending their own deportation proceedings, or because they were paroled or given a temporary stay. 

Trump promised to do this with "more energy" than the Obama administration, which has nonetheless deported more than 2.5 million people since 2009, according to statistics from DHS. 

Trump also outlined a proposal roughly similar to the Senate's failed attempt at comprehensive immigration reform, saying that there would be "no amnesty, but we will work with them." 

"They’ll pay back taxes. They have to pay taxes," Trump said. "There’s no amnesty, but we will work with them." 

Last Wednesday, he narrowed the requirements, saying that unauthorized immigrants must leave the United States if they want to seek a path to legalization. "There's no path to legalization unless they leave the country," Trump said. "When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and then come back."

Even the wall may be up for grabs. 

While Trump has repeatedly argued his administration would build a "very powerful wall," some advisers have said that Trump may be considering a virtual wall, made of sensors. 

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Or, exactly what Homeland Security has been building over the last decade, including a series of fixed towers bristling with sensors that are being constructed throughout the southwestern part of Arizona as part of a $23 million contract with an Israeli company. 

However, campaign spokesmen have reiterated that the physical wall is still part of the plan. 

Trump may have a difficult time convincing Nieto to give him a deal as Trump is widely reviled in Mexico, and Nieto faces his own popularity problems over corruption. 

On Tuesday Mexican officials announced that the leader of Mexico's Federal Police force, Commissioner Enrique Galindo, was removed from his position after evidence came to light showing that police may have murdered more 40 people in Michoacán. 

Meanwhile, Trump's likeness has become a widespread design for piñatas following repeated comments against Mexico, including describing Mexicans as "rapists" who bring drugs and crime to the United States. 

Nieto called these comments "strident" and compared Trump's rhetorical flourishes to Mussolini and Hitler. 

And Trump's claim that he would force Mexico to pay for the border wall led to an outburst by former Mexican president Vicente Fox who said: "I'm not going to pay for that fucking wall." 

Fox later apologized. 

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Donald Trump during a March rally in Tucson.