Can Donald Trump Deport 2 To 3 Million Illegal Immigrants Like His 2017 Immigration Policy Plans Promise? [Opinion]

Even though Donald Trump’s policy plans promised deportation of more than 2 million illegal immigrants when he becomes 45th president of the United States, the actual statistics simply don’t seem to support the numbers. It is imperative that the Republican president-elect will have to settle for a lot humbler and more conservative figure.

Donald Trump made his intentions about immigration very clear when he insisted on prioritizing deportation or incarceration of the immigrants who are both in the country illegally, and who are “gang members, drug dealers” or have other criminal convictions. He continued to note that the number of deportations during his tenure as the U.S. president could be as high as 2 million or it could even be 3 million, reported the Washington Post.

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During a 60 Minutes interview which aired Sunday, Trump’s widely lauded firm stand on illegal immigrants was reiterated. Unfortunately for Trump’s immigration policy plan, the actual figures are nowhere close to the one the president-elect has in his mind, reported Five Thirty Eight.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are about 1.9 million non-citizen immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and are subject to deportation. Incidentally, this figure includes undocumented immigrants and non-citizens that are currently in the United States without proper approval or due process. These people are legally termed as “removable criminal aliens.” Since Trump’s criteria for deportation is restricted to those who have a criminal record, he can potentially deport less than 2 million in his entire four-year term. But during one of his speeches, he promised to deport 11 million,

“We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out. They will come back — some will come back, the best, through a process. They have to come back legally. They have to come back through a process, and it may not be a very quick process, but I think that’s very fair, and very fine. They’re going to get in line with other people. The best of them will come back, but they’re going to come back through a process”

It is quite likely that Donald Trump may have relied on the figures offered by the Migration Policy Institute. According to the think tank, there are roughly 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally. The institute adds that a little more than 820,000 of these immigrants have criminal records. Interestingly, the Pew Research Center, another think tank, has very similar numbers. The agency notes that quite a few of these immigrants are already languishing in American prisons.

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Essentially, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) just cannot deport 2 to 3 million immigrants “immediately,” as Donald Trump’s policy plan promises. As a comparison, the George W. Bush administration deported about 2 million illegal aliens, while the Obama administration has deported a little over 2.5 million. In order to arrange for a dramatically increased deportation rate, the government would have to allocate several billion dollars, which budget-conscious Republicans in the the U.S. Congress won’t like and likely wouldn’t approve.

Moreover, Trump has trained his sights on illegal immigrants who have criminal records. As government records show, there never were millions of “removable criminal aliens” in the first place. It’s also possible that states and local authorities may not be cooperative with Trump’s plans.

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How many illegal immigrants with criminal records can Donald Trump deport? According to official figures, there are about 820,000 immigrants with criminal records that qualify for immediate deportation. Hence, under Trump’s regime, the ICE can realistically, if not practically, deport 800,000 immigrants within two years, just not within 2017 as Trump would prefer.

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Interestingly, under Obama, the highest number of illegal immigrants ICE has ever deported per year was 435,498 immigrants. However, with the agency announcing efforts to “prioritize convicted criminals and threats to public safety, border security, and national security,” that number fell drastically in 2015, reported Snopes. According to the records, ICE removed or returned 235,413 individuals last year, a number much lower compared to Obama’s first term.

Realistically speaking, the ICE could aim at doubling the deportations from 400,000 to 800,000, but not with the current budget. The Homeland Security Department still has the resources it had during Barack Obama’s first term. This means the government could realistically deport 400,000 or even 500,000 people per year. In other words, Trump could credibly and potentially deport about 2 million people during his first term. Moreover, he could do it without requesting additional resources or authorization from Congress. However, many among those deported wouldn’t be convicted criminals.

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Donald Trump made several promises during his election campaigns, which many claim are preposterous. Moreover, the president-elect appears to have slowly but steadily backtracked on some of the most controversial promises including repealing Obamacare and locking up Hillary Clinton. However, it is quite possible Donald Trump will use his limited powers as president to increase the annual rate of deportation.

[Featured Image by Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images]