Today President Elect Donald Trump appeared on 60 Minutes and was interviewed by Lesley Stahl. He spoke about immigration reform and said that it is one of his top three legislative priorities, alongside healthcare and tax reform. Here at Alcorn Immigration Law, we’re taking a look at what Trump said, what it means for immigrants, and immigration moves he’s already been making. We stand by ready to defend and protect the rights of immigrants to build amazing companies, create jobs, better their communities, and create the lives they’ve dreamed about for themselves and their families.
During the 60 minutes interview, Trump discussed his plans for immigration. First he plans to immediately begin deporting foreigners with criminal convictions. Second he will commence construction on the wall on the Mexican border. Third he will figure out what to do with all the “terrific” undocumented foreigners in the United States. Trump’s statements vary greatly from his campaign rhetoric.
“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 two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are 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 are gonna make a determination at that– But before we make that determination– Lesley, it’s very important, we want to secure our border.”
Step 1: Deportations
Trump first wants to deport criminal aliens. He mentioned that there are two- to three-million criminal aliens in the United States, but there are probably less, and the numbers are fuzzy. According to the respected nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, there are about 820,000 undocumented people in the U.S. with criminal convictions. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit group that seeks to lower immigration levels, there are about two million “removable criminal aliens,” which includes people with green cards and visas in addition to the undocumented who have criminal convictions. President Obama has deported more aliens than any other president, at a total of about 2 million. However, there is no promise that Trump will respect due process and prosecutorial discretion during his mass deportations.
Step 2: Wall
Next, Trump will focus on that wall. He wants to secure the border and get everything “normalized.” Trump said that he really intends to build a wall, but he would accept a fence in certain areas, as is being discussed in the Republican Congress. He did not make any comments during the 60 Minutes interview about getting Mexico to pay for it.
Step 3: A Glimmer of Hope for the Undocumented?
Finally, after the criminal aliens are gone and the wall is completed, Trump will reassess the “Terrific People” who are the undocumented immigrants of our country. This is the first time we’ve noted him calling undocumented immigrants “terrific.” Is this a shift that is an early indication of amnesty?
Early Trump-backer Rep. Chris Collins of New York said that after the wall is complete, something might be done to secure the status of the remaining 9-11 million. Trump said during his interview, “I want to focus on the border and immigration and doing a really great immigration bill. We want to have a great immigration bill.” So, it is theoretically possible that undocumented immigrants might still have a path to citizenship through legalization.
However, another possibility is that Trump could terminate the DACA work permit program. All he would need to do is simply direct USCIS to stop issuing and renewing work permits. Then the government could then use the identity information collected through the program to deport people. It has had over half a million participants who would be easy to track down and deport.
Other Recent Political Immigration Developments
In other political developments over the weekend, House Speaker Paul Ryan said today that there would be no deportation force, going against one of Trump’s campaign pledges. This is a huge relief as it would have been a due process nightmare, tearing apart families and destroying the lives of American children.
Additionally, names of individuals who will be on Trump’s immigration transition team were announced. According to a document obtained by NY Times, Danielle Cutrona will be leading the “Immigration Reform & Building the Wall” component of the Trump transition team. She is an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama. Sessions opposes illegal and many forms of legal immigration. Trump adopted his idea of cutting federal funding to sanctuary cities during the campaign.
Also, the anti-illegal immigration politician from Kansas, Kris Kobach, will participate in the immigration transition team. He has said that Trump could boost deportations by more than 75% in the first year of his presidency. Kobach has also designed anti-immigrant laws for state and municipalities around the country. One example is a 2010 law in Arizona, SB 1070, that allows law enforcement to ask individuals for immigration papers if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that they they might be undocumented. He is an advocate for making immigration laws so harsh that aliens “self-deport.”
Interview Galvanizes Protesters
Over 1,000 immigrants’ rights activists protested in New York following the broadcast of Trump’s interview, with many more immigrants joining existing protests in cities across the country. Some of the slogans are “Hate won’t make us great” and “We are here to stay.”
Alcorn Immigration Law Is Here.
At Alcorn Immigration Law we are standing by, teaching you what you need to know about how immigration law is changing, and ready to fight to keep the American Dream alive for immigrants and their families. If you would like to make a contribution in support of immigrants’ rights and due process, the American Immigration Council is a wonderful advocacy organization doing amazing and powerful work in this arena.