Will Donald Trump Deport All Undocumented Immigrants? His Campaign Comments Raised A Terrifying Question

RIO GRANDE CITY, TX - DECEMBER 07: A U.S. Border Patrol officer body searches an undocumented immigrant after he illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and was caught on December 7, 2015 near Rio Grande City, Texas. Border Patrol agents continue to detain hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants trying to avoid capture after crossing into the United States, even as migrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central America cross and turn themselves in to seek assylum. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Source: John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Many are still coming to grips with the full implications of Donald Trump’s electoral victory Tuesday night. For some, the fallout will have potentially life-altering consequences. Among the many questions being asked this morning is, will President-elect Trump deport all undocumented immigrants?

Given that undocumented immigrants have been such an important theme to the Donald Trump campaign, the answer to this question is still frustratingly vague. During the race, Trump described several different deportation plans. In a speech from late August, Trump outlined a plan that targets for immediate deportation of at least 5 million people, and as many as 6.5 million people, of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants. The plan would require a massive expansion of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and a creation of a special task force to focus on more serious security threats.

Whether Trump pursues the exact policy he outlined during his campaign or not remains to be seen. Immigration was not mentioned in Trump’s victory speech Tuesday night, but in a document published on Trump’s web site titled “Donald Trump’s Contract With The American Voter” from October 23, 2016, several troubling actions regarding illegal immigrants are outlined. In the section titled “Five acts to restore security and the constitutional rule of law,” the president-elect promises to “begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country,” (which is paired with the seemingly insane step of cancelling “visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back”).

Additionally, in a move that might have equally dire economic effects, the contract vows to “cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities,” that is, cities that pursue policies that shelter illegal immigrants from deportation by the federal government. What type of federal funding would be “cancelled” by this move is unclear — for instance, would cities lose their Federal Aviation Administration-funded Flight Traffic Controllers if they refused to comply?

The contract also outlines an “End Illegal Immigration Act,” which provides for Trump’s much-touted wall along the southern border, and will impose stiff penalties on those who re-enter the country after deportation and for those who overstay their visas.

While some of these goals can be achieved through executive order — Obama himself attempted modest immigration reform by flexing the muscle of the Oval Office (with varying success) — others will require passage through Congress. Although the Republicans control both the House and Senate, they don’t possess a so-called “supermajority” in the Senate to override filibusters, and its possible that draconian legislation might get blocked by Senate Democrats.

And then of course there’s always the possibility that Trump has secretly been much more centrist than his campaign has shown. After the ground-moving-beneath-our-feet results of last night, I’m no longer taking anything for granted, good or bad.

Must Reads