Any plan to deport millions of illegal immigrants will face chronic shortcomings in the system, say experts
During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump appeared ready to deport all of the country’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants as soon as possible. Since the election, his stance has become more nuanced. But the question remains of whether even his immediate goal to deport the 2 million or so illegal immigrants with criminal records is feasible.
“Gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people,” he said during the Nov. 13 “60 Minute” interview. “We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.”
That pledge raises the issue of resources, though Trump hinted in a Time interview on Nov. 13 that he would take a softer position on Dreamers—people brought to the country illegally as children.
“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” he said. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs.”
That softer treatment, however, does not seem to include rescinding his campaign promise to scrap President Barack Obama’s executive orders that handed Dreamers work permits and protection from deportation.
Whoever he decides to deport, Trump will face budgetary, logistical, and legislative constraints.
Courts and Detention Centers
Immigration courts, which decide the majority of deportation cases, are sinking under a backlog of over 526,000 cases (and counting), making people wait years for a court hearing.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) handles the rest of the deportations, mostly through a procedure called “expedited removal.” But that procedure requires putting the immigrants in detention and the department has only 34,000 detention beds.
“There would need to be a larger infrastructure and more money to detain and to deport people,” said Ingrid Eagly, a law professor and immigration expert at UCLA School of Law.
Trump’s “2 million” figure represents all “removable criminal aliens,” as DHS puts it. That includes illegal immigrants, but also some legal immigrants, tourists, and foreign students who commit a serious crime, such as robbery, drug dealing, or worse. Nobody knows how many of the 2 million are in the country illegally. The Center for Immigration Studies says most, while the Migration Policy Institute says fewer than half.
Regardless, some 550,000 of these criminal aliens exit jails and prisons every year, DHS estimated in 2013. The Obama administration has been recently deporting about 65,000 criminal aliens caught inside the country a year, down from over 100,000 in 2009.
Read the full article by Petr Svab on Epoch Times.