In a “60 Minutes” interview aired on Sunday, President-elect Donald Trump said he planned to immediately deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants who “have criminal records” after his inauguration next January.
“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 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump told “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, according to interview released by CBS. “But we’re getting them out of our country. They’re here illegally.”
Stahl had pressed Trump about his campaign pledge to deport “millions and millions of undocumented immigrants.” Trump told her that after securing the border, his administration would make a “determination” on the remaining undocumented immigrants in the country.
“After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, 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,” Trump said. “But before we make that determination . . . it’s very important, we are going to secure our border.”
His comments echoed those he had made at the start of his campaign: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump had said last June when he announced his candidacy. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. 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. And some, I assume, are good people.”
According to The Washington Post Fact Checker, Trump likely gets these estimates from a Department of Homeland Security fiscal 2013 report saying there were 1.9 million “removable criminal aliens.” However, that figure includes undocumented immigrants and people who are lawful permanent residents, or those who have temporary visas.
As for how many of those people are illegally present noncitizens, there are conflicting figures from the think tank Migration Policy Institute and the Center for Immigration Studies. In a fact check, The Post rated Trump’s figures “Two Pinocchios,” noting that federal immigration enforcement data is “not always transparent or reliable.”
Trump’s campaign promises also included fully repealing the Affordable Care Act, forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall and banning Muslims from entering the U.S.
Since winning the election, Trump and his key advisers have been backing away from some of those promises, and Republican leaders who made the Sunday political-show circuit seemed to approach the issue of mass deportations more cautiously.
“I think it’s difficult to do,” Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday earlier Sunday morning. “First thing you have to do is secure the border, and then we’ll have discussions.”
McCarthy also hedged on the border wall, saying Republicans were focused on “securing the southern border” but with the aid of technology rather than necessarily a full-length brick-and-mortar wall.
House speaker Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that securing the border was their top priority.
“We are not planning on erecting a deportation force,” Ryan said. “Donald Trump is not planning on that.”
Regarding his border wall plans, Trump told Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” that he would accept fencing along some of the border, as Republicans in Congress have proposed.
“For certain areas, I would. But for certain areas a wall is more appropriate,” Trump said. “I’m very good at this. It’s called construction.”