Today, there are 11.1 million undocumented immigrants living in the US. Although Donald Trump initially planned to only deport 2 to 3 million people if he became president, he may now be upping that number drastically.
When Trump declared his presidential candidacy in June 2015, he immediately cited Mexico as being the main perpetrator for sending undocumented criminal immigrants across the border. In an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl in November 2016, Trump said:
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.
Trump also touched upon undocumented immigrants who were not criminals:
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 … it’s very important, we want to secure our border.
But it seems that Trump has changed his mind about the latter. According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump’s administration may be considering up to 8 million people as priorities for deportation.
The New York Times believes Trump based his original number of 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records from a 2012 government estimate, but that number actually included more than a million immigrants who had green cards or temporary visas.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are about 820,000 undocumented immigrants who have been charged with crimes, but this number can be diminished further to 690,000 undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes.
In other words, Trump’s promise to immediately deport 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants as soon as he took office was unrealistic from the beginning. Following Trump’s own criteria of who would get deported, that number amounts to less than a million people.
But now Trump’s administration has widened their horizons by granting ICE agents the ability to deport anyone they come in contact with who had entered the US illegally. This includes people who receive government-funded food assistance program food stamps as well as parents of children who receive free lunch at school.
The Trump administration has essentially expanded former president Obama’s deportation focus, which was limited to individuals who have committed multiple crimes, recent arrivals, and people who have repeatedly entered the US illegally. But during Obama’s administration, there were only 1.4 million people who were considered priorities for deportation.
Trump has taken Obama’s focus a step further by ordering ICE agents to not only deport undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes, but also law abiding individuals who committed a crime when they entered the US illegally. There are 6 million undocumented immigrants who fall into this category.
It’s easy for Trump and his supporters to list all the positives of deporting undocumented immigrants, but there is a lack of consideration of the impact it would have on the country. Out of the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants residing in the US, there are 8 million workers.
If Trump actually went through with his plan, it wouldn’t only be families who would feel the impact, but America as a whole. The agriculture industry, for instance, would experience a shortage of labor workers. There would be no one to pick the crops growing in the fields.
A 20-page document was given to Homeland Security officials on how to increase immigration enforcement, in addition to an 11-page memo that spells out how Trump’s orders should be executed.
There are talks of expanding deportation programs that were shut down in the past years and despite the American public’s cry to stop it all, it’s clear that Trump doesn’t plan to press the brakes any time soon.