Trump vows to deport up to 3 million illegal immigrants
In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired 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 a preview of the 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 country.
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. “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 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 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.”
On Thursday, former House speaker Newt Gingrich admitted that Trump would likely not focus on getting Mexico to pay for the wall, as the candidate had promised during his campaign, but that it had been “a great campaign device.”
CBS had released on Saturday two preview clips of same “60 Minutes” segment, Trump's first televised interview since winning the election last week.
Seated with his wife, Melania, and his four adult children, Trump spoke to Stahl about his seemingly shifting position on the Affordable Care Act, saying he would try to preserve key parts of the health care act, and also praised Hillary Clinton as “very strong and very smart.”
Trump told Stahl that Clinton's phone call conceding the election was “lovely” and acknowledged that making the phone call was likely “tougher for her than it would have been for me,” according to previews of the interview released by CBS.
“She couldn't have been nicer. She just said, ‘Congratulations, Donald, well done,' ” Trump told Stahl. “And I said, ‘I want to thank you very much. You were a great competitor.' She is very strong and very smart.”
Trump's tone in the interview was in sharp contrast to his bitter attacks on the campaign trail, in which he nicknamed Clinton “Crooked Hillary” and encouraged chants of “Lock her up!” at his rallies. Among other insults, Trump also referred to his competitor as “the devil,” “a bigot” and — at the tail end of the final presidential debate — “such a nasty woman.”
Trump also told Stahl that former president Bill Clinton called him the following day and “couldn't have been more gracious.”
“He said it was an amazing run — one of the most amazing he's ever seen,” Trump said. “He was very, very, really, very nice.”
During the campaign, Trump had tried to use Bill Clinton's infidelities as a way to attack and embarrass Hillary Clinton. For the second presidential debate, Trump had sought to intimidate his competitor by inviting women who had accused the former president of sexual abuse to sit in the Trump family box. Debate officials quashed the idea.
In the interview with Stahl, Trump did not rule out calling both of the Clintons for advice during his term.
“I mean, this is a very talented family,” he said. “Certainly, I would certainly think about that.”