He’ll build a border wall and he’ll deport millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally, President-elect Donald Trump says, promising to keep his campaign pledges on immigration in his first prolonged interview since winning the White House.
Saying that his administration will deport “probably 2 million” — and possibly 3 million — people who are in the country illegally, Trump told 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl that he wants to secure the border. Trump also seemed open to the plan some of his fellow Republicans have aired, of securing some parts of the border with a fence.
The interview with Trump will air on CBS Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET; it also includes members of his family. The interview was taped Friday at Trump’s Fifth Avenue residence in New York City. It comes after days of anti-Trump protests in more than a dozen American cities, where demonstrators have criticized the incoming president’s immigration stance.
For comparison purposes, we’ll note that in President Obama’s first term, his administration carried out a record 1.5 million deportations — including more than 400,000 in fiscal year 2012. The figure declined to 235,413 in fiscal year 2015, and as NPR’s Scott Horsley reported this summer, the Obama administration has shifted its focus to deporting criminals, people caught near the border, and those who recently came to the country without securing documents.
Here’s what Trump told 60 Minutes when he was asked about undocumented immigrants in the U.S.:
“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records — gang members, drug dealers — we have a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million. We’re getting them out of our country or we’re going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.
“After the border is secured, and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that you’re talking about — who are terrific people, they’re terrific people. But we’re going to make a determination… but before we make that determination, Leslie, it’s very important, we’re going to secure our border.”
As Scott Horsley noted in a review of recent U.S. immigration policy, the rate of deportations went up under Obama, just as it had under the previous two presidents. And Trump took notice, back in August.
“What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country,” Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. “Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing.”
The plan for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico is Trump’s new facet in immigration policy. Here’s his exchange with Stahl of CBS, discussing the idea:
“Are you really going to build a wall?” Stahl asks.
“Yes,” Trump says.
“They’re talking about a fence in the Republican Congress. Would you accept a fence?”
“For certain areas I would — but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.”
“So, part wall, part fence?
“Yeah, it could be some fencing.”
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