In his first extensive interview since he won the White House, Trump is reassuring his supporters that he will deport or incarcerate up to three million ‘gang members’ and ‘drug dealers.’
In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes that airs on Sunday evening – his first since winning the election – Trump insisted that he will build the wall along the US-Mexico border that was a vital part of his presidential campaign.
”What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where 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,” Trump said.
”But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”
According to an report by immigration enforcement, fewer than 200,000 undocumented immigrants were deported in 2014 who were convicted of committing crimes.
Trump didn’t specify what he would seek to do with the remaining estimated 9 to 10 million undocumented immigrants.
”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.”
Interviewer Leslie Stahl asked Trump whether the wall could be ‘part wall, part fence?’
His reply: ‘There could be some fencing.’
The nearly 2,000-mile US-Mexican border currently has high walls in some sectors, fencing in others, along with electronic and human surveillance in other portions, including vast desert areas where border officials have questioned the utility of a large physical barrier.
Trump kicked off his presidential campaign by outlining his uncompromising stance on immigration.
He proposed building a wall – and making Mexico pay for it – to keep illegal immigrants out of the United States because ‘when Mexico sends its people,’ he said, they’re sending ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals.’
Since his victory, the Mexican government has repeated that it will not pay for a border wall.
Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico’s foreign minister, said: ”We are in the business of eliminating barriers.
”That’s why we would not consider paying for any wall that puts barriers between our integration and competitiveness.’
And when asked about the wall, Newt Gingrich, who has been appointed the co-chair of Trump’s transition team, called it a ‘great campaign device.’
But when asked if he does plan to build the wall, Trump told 60 Minutes: ‘Yes.’
However, Trump stipulated that the wall – instead of being ‘big and beautiful’ like he repeatedly vowed – could end up being part-wall and ‘some fencing.’
”For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate,” he said.
”I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.”
The billionaire businessman said that once the border is secured, immigration officials will ‘make a determination’ about remaining undocumented immigrants in the country.
Since his election, Trump had appeared to strike a more conciliatory note during his acceptance speech and since meeting President Barack Obama.
He has suggested that he will keep some elements of the Affordable Care Act – despite vowing throughout his campaign to repeal Obamacare immediately.
Trump’s campaign was also rife with anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposals that included banning all Muslims from entering the country as well as heightened surveillance of mosques across the nation.
The Muslim ban later softened into ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants from some countries compromised by terrorism. And in the aftermath of his victory, the pledge to ban Muslims disappeared entirely from his campaign website.
In an appearance on CNN on Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to put people’s minds ‘at ease’ about a deportation force and some of Trump’s other statements about immigration.
‘I think we should put people’s minds at ease that is not what our focus is,’ Ryan said. ‘Our focus is securing the border.’
‘We are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump is not planning on that,’ he said.