President-elect Donald Trump says he intends to immediately deport two to three million illegal immigrants who have “criminal records” after he is inaugurated in January, according to an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes that will be aired Sunday night.
"What we are going to do is get the people that are criminals 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."
The warning that he intends to make good on his campaign pledge to gradually round up and deport as many of the 11 million illegal immigrants throughout his first term comes amid growing protests across the country against Trump’s strict immigrant policies.
It also comes as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on Sunday morning that he and other lawmakers are not prepared to create a deportation force to round up and oust millions of illegal immigrants.
“We are not planning on erecting a deportation force,” Ryan said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, “Donald Trump’s not planning on that.”
Ryan, who has clashed in the past with Trump over a range of issues including how best to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., said that “I think we should put people’s minds at ease. That’s not what our focus is. We’re focused on securing the border. We think that’s first and foremost before we get into any other immigration issue.”
However, Trump repeated a pledge from last fall that while he wouldn’t attempt to round up and deport all illegal immigrants, he would simultaneously focus on weeding out convicted criminals while simultaneously tightening security along the border and pressing for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"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.”
Ryan has done much to patch up his rocky relationship with Trump since last Tuesday’s election. He has proclaimed the coming year a golden opportunity for the new Republican president and GOP-controlled Congress to press forward with a broad policy agenda on health care, taxes, immigration and welfare reform that he has had a major role in crafting.
In arguing that Trump won a mandate with his electoral college victory to take the country in a new direction, despite losing to Democrat Hillary in the popular vote by two million, Ryan told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Trump “beat all the odds” and that people need to “stop underestimating Donald Trump.”
“I think he is very much of a mindset that there is a need to unify this country, to heal the division in this country, but also there is a mandate and a desire and a commitment to fix the problems as we’ve laid the solutions out . . . to get this country back on track,” he added.
“This is going to help people get out of poverty, we think this is going to grow the economy, make our country more secure, make our borders secure, help the military go on offense against ISIS, clean up the red tape that is strangling small businesses so that they can hire people again. These are good things that we have in store that we’re really excited about.”
Yet in the early going after Trump’s historic victory last Tuesday, there is growing uncertainty and confusion over the extent to which Trump intends to convert his often fiery, divisive rhetoric into policy – including repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, building a wall along the southern border and forcing Mexico to pay for it, and his promise last year to create a huge “deportation force” to round up and oust millions of illegal immigrants.
Ryan said last April during a town hall meeting at Georgetown University that the Congress and administration must come up with a solution for illegal immigrants “that doesn’t involve mass deportation.”
Trump has sent conflicting signals on his position, gradually backing away from a promise to deport all illegal immigrants back to their countries of origin. However, in his most definitive policy statement last September in Phoenix, Trump said he would require a massive and pricey expansion of the U.S. border-control system, one that would target criminals and gang members for immediate removal.
He outlined a plan that would target at least five million and as many as 6.5 million undocumented immigrants for prompt removal or about half of the 11 million estimated to be living in the United States. Without being any more specific, he left open the possibility he would deport more in subsequent years.
“Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation,” Trump declared in a speech.
Ryan, the conservative policy maven on Capitol Hill, maintained a tenuous on again, off again relationship with Trump throughout the stormy 2016 presidential campaign. He frequently publicly differed with Trump over the billionaire businessman’s more outlandish statements, including his call for banning all Muslims from the U.S. and his criticism of a Mexican-American federal judge presiding over a fraud case against the defunct Trump University for being biased against him.
Ryan advised his House Republican colleagues to focus on their own reelections and to distance themselves from Trump if necessary after an 11-year-old “Access Hollywood” videotape surfaced in early October showing Trump boasting of having used his star power to grope and sexually assault attractive women.
Trump and his allies reportedly viewed Ryan’s actions as an act of betrayal, rather than simply pragmatic political maneuvering essential to protect the majority in the House. But all was forgiven after Trump’s historic and totally surprising victory last week over Clinton. Ryan described Trump’s narrow win as a “mandate,” adding at a press conference in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin that “The opportunity is to go big, to go bold, and to get things done for the people of this country.”
Trump and Ryan signaled that they had put their differences behind them during Trump’s visit to Capitol Hill last Thursday when the president-elect and congressional leaders held their first preliminary discussions of the new GOP legislative agenda.
“I think we’re going to do some absolutely spectacular things for the American people,” Trump boasted in brief remarks after his meeting with Ryan, citing, among other things, immigration, taxes and health care as shared priorities. “We can’t get started fast enough. We’ll be putting things up pretty quickly.”