Trump softens promise of border wall, says parts could be fence

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WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump backed away from his promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, saying some areas could instead be "fencing," and added he would move to deport up to 3 million immigrants in the country illegally who have criminal records.

Trump, who made his pledge to force Mexico to pay for a border wall a centerpiece of his White House campaign, said "for certain areas" he would accept fencing instead of a brick-and-mortar wall, according to excerpts released on Sunday of his interview with the CBS program "60 Minutes."

SEE ALSO: Jake Tapper grills Paul Ryan over whether his Obamacare replacement will still provide free birth control

"But certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I'm very good at this, it's called construction, there could be some fencing," the New York real estate developer said.

Trump, who defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's election and replaces Democratic President Barack Obama on Jan. 20, also said once he takes office he would remove immigrants in the country illegally with criminal records.

RELATED: Newspapers around the world react to Trump's win

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Newspapers around the world react to Trump's win
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Newspapers around the world react to Trump's win
A businessman walks past copies of the London Evening Standard newspaper, featuring a picture of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on its front page, waiting to be picked up in the square mile financial district of the City of London, U.K., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in a stunning repudiation of the political establishment that jolted financial markets and likely will reorder the nation's priorities and fundamentally alter America's relationship with the world. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Mexican holds a newspaper with headlines referring to the eventual triumph of Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / PEDRO PARDO (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican newspapers with their front page referring to the eventual triumph of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A Mexican holds a newspaper with headlines about on the eventual triumph of Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / PEDRO PARDO (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Copies of a special edition of the Financial Times newspaper, featuring a picture of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on its front page, sit waiting to be picked up in the square mile financial district of the City of London, U.K., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in a stunning repudiation of the political establishment that jolted financial markets and likely will reorder the nation's priorities and fundamentally alter America's relationship with the world. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Mexican newspaper with its front page referring to the eventual triumph of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A Mexican newspaper with its front page referring to the eventual triumph of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A Mexican reads a newspaper with headlines about on the eventual triumph of Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. / AFP / PEDRO PARDO (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
View of Guatemalan newspapers informing about the victory of US presidential candidate Donald Trump in their front pages, in Guatemala City on November 9, 2016. / AFP / JOHAN ORDONEZ (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Colombian newspapers report the victory of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on their front pages, in Medellin, Colombia, on November 9, 2016 / AFP / STR / RAUL ARBOLEDA (Photo credit should read RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images)
An 'I Voted' sticker adorns a newspaper at an election watch party organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Republican Donald Trump was projected to win North Carolina and Florida, an unexpectedly strong showing in results Tuesday night that potentially throws the balance in the presidential race to Michigan and Wisconsin, key parts of Hillary Clinton's Midwestern electoral firewall. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 09: A man distributes an extra edition of a newspaper featuring a front page report on the U.S. Presidential Election and Republican President-elect Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Yuya Shino/Getty Images)
Chilean newspapers report the victory of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on their front pages, in Santiago, on November 9, 2016 / AFP / MARTiN BERNETTi (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi man holds an edition of Iraqi daily newspaper Azzaman displaying pictures of US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Baghdad on November 9, 2016. Billionaire populist Donald Trump, tapping into an electorate fed up with Washington insiders, was on the verge of a shock victory over Hillary Clinton in a historic US presidential election that sent world markets into meltdown. / AFP / SABAH ARAR (Photo credit should read SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)
The New York Post newspaper featuring president-elect Donald Trump's victory is displayed on a New York newsstand, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 in New York. Donald Trump claimed his place Wednesday as America's 45th president, an astonishing victory for the celebrity businessman and political novice who capitalized on voters' economic anxieties, took advantage of racial tensions and overcame a string of sexual assault allegations on his way to the White House. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A Clarin newspaper, left, with a headline reading in Spanish "Trump was winning and U.S begins an era that shocks the world" with a picture of President-elect Donald Trump is prepared to be delivered outside a building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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"What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we're getting them out of our country," he told "60 Minutes."

During the campaign, Trump said he would deport the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, most of whom are Hispanic. In calling for the construction of a border wall, Trump said Mexico was sending criminals and rapists into the United States.

Trump and his senior advisers have signaled they could be flexible on some of his campaign promises once he takes office.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, who will play a key role in getting Trump's agenda through the Republican-led Congress, backed away from Trump's promise during the campaign of a "deportation force" to round up and deport immigrants in the country illegally.

"We are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump's not planning on that," Ryan told CNN's "State of the Union" program. "I think we should put people's minds at ease. That is not what our focus is. That is not what we're focused on. We're focused on securing the border."

Kevin McCarthy, the No. 2 House Republican, said on "Fox News Sunday" the wall with Mexico could in parts be a "virtual" wall patrolled by drones.

"You have to put a wall, it could be all virtual with the UAV airplanes as well, but I think that is doable and one of the first things that needs to be done," McCarthy said, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

'A TRANSACTIONAL GUY'

On Sunday, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway indicated Trump would be results-oriented as he chooses his top aides, prepares his transition to the White House and gets ready to work with Congress.

"He'll be surrounded by people who want to get things done. Because he's a transactional guy. He's a businessman," Conway said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Ryan said he agreed with Trump's comments in a Wall Street Journal interview published on Friday that he would keep elements of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare.

Repealing and replacing the 2010 Affordable Care Act was another centerpiece of Trump's campaign. But he told the Journal that after talking to Obama at the White House on Thursday he would consider retaining provisions letting parents keep adult children up to age 26 on their insurance policies and barring insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.

"We can fix what is broken in healthcare without breaking what is working in healthcare," Ryan said. "Obamacare is failing. It must be replaced. We're going to do that."

Ryan also sidestepped questions about Trump's plan to impose tariffs on imports from countries such as Mexico and China. Ryan said changes to tax law could accomplish the same goals "without any collateral damage to the economy."

Trump, who pledged during the campaign to "drain the swamp" of corrupt insiders in the U.S. capital, is considering a wide range of experienced Washington hands for his administration, as well as some officials with extensive lobbying experience.

Conway said that experience was needed in Washington.

"Look, these are people who are talented and have done this before. You can't just appoint novices, you have to have people who know what they're doing. But at the same time moving forward this is an administration that's going to run very differently than typical Washington," Conway said on "Fox News Sunday."

(Additional reporting by Howard Schneider and Alana Wise; Editing by Will Dunham)

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