Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's controversial position on the deportation of immigrants living illegally in the US is "to be determined," according to his new campaign team.

Trump has repeatedly called for the removal of 11 million immigrants living illegally in the US, saying they "have to go". He also branded illegal Mexican immigrants "criminals", and promised that as president, he would build a wall between the US and its southern neighbour.

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said at a campaign rally. "They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists."

When asked if Trump will continue to support the forced deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants living in the US, the GOP nominee's new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told CNN: "To be determined."

Donald Trump vs Muslim father
Forced deportations or more 'humane' strategy to 'be determined,' says new campaign manager Kellyanne ConwayCarlo Allegri/Reuters

The questioning of Conway followed a BuzzFeed report that Trump – who is attempting to woo a largely alienated US Hispanic electorate – talked in a meeting with leaders of the community to find a "humane and efficient" way to work with undocumented immigrants.

Conway insisted that Trump has always been committed to a "fair and humane" approach to those living in the country illegally.

Donald Trump
A resident walks past an image depicting Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump by a section of the border fence between Mexico and the United States on the outskirts of TijuanaJorge Duenes/ Reuters

"So what Donald Trump said yesterday in that meeting ... varied little from what he has said publicly," Conway insisted, referring to the meeting with Hispanic leaders.

"What he supports is to make sure we enforce the law, that we are respectful of those Americans who are looking for well-paying jobs, and that we are fair and humane to those who live among us in this country."

The Clinton campaign immediately pounced on the issue. "Donald Trump's immigration plan remains the same as it's always been: tear apart families and deport [millions] from the United States," said Clinton campaign chair, John Podesta.

Besides ejecting illegal immigrants, Trump has also insisted on banning Muslims from entering the country. Earlier in August he called for the "extreme, extreme" vetting of people entering the US, with ideological "screening tests," or a total suspension of immigrants from nations "known to export terrorism." Trump also recently admitted he sometimes regrets saying hurtful things.

The apparent U-turn could be a sign of things to come in the Trump campaign after he ditched his old team, including campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He replaced top aides with both Conway and combative conservative Stephen Bannon, head of the Breitbart News website, as campaign chief executive.