Donald Trump has said he will deport two to three million undocumented immigrants “immediately” upon taking office.
In his first television interview since winning the presidential election, Mr Trump insisted that he is going to carry out his hardline immigration policy proposals, while insisting that he would build a wall between the US and Mexico.
“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 the country or we are going to incarcerate,” Mr Trump told 60 Minutes.
“Be we’re getting them out of the country, they’re here illegally.”
He explained that once the border is “secure”, then the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will assess the status of the remaining undocumented immigrants in the country.
“After the border is secure and after everything gets normalised, we’re going to make a determination on the people that they’re talking about who are terrific people, they’re terrific people but we are gonna make a determination at that,” he said. “But before we make that determination… it’s very important, we are going to secure our border.”
Of course, it still remains unclear how Mr Trump plans to carry out this proposal. Undocumented immigrants are entitled to full removal proceedings in immigraiton court. And as the courts already have a major backlog of hearing, there would be no immediate removals. Additionally, he fails to explain how his policy would be different from the current law in place under the Obama administration, which prioritises removal of immigrants convicted of criminal offences.
Mr Trump did offer minor details about the wall he plans to build – namely, that a portion of it would not be a wall at all – describing an iteration of the boundary between the two countries that essentially already exists.
“There could be some fencing,” he said. “For certain areas I would [accept a fence], but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.”
The President-elect’s comments about mass deportations stand at odds with a statement made by Paul Ryan, the highest ranking Republican, on Sunday morning.
“We are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump’s not planning on that,” Mr Ryan told CNN.
“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,” he added. “We think that’s first and foremost, before we get into any other immigration issue, we’ve got to know who’s coming and going into the country – we’ve got to secure the border.”
Paul Ryan should be removed by the Republican Party from his leadership position. He’s an obstacle, not a help.