President-elect Donald Trump certainly made many big promises during his election campaign about building walls, deporting immigrants, and repealing the Affordable Care Act, but now that he's actually won, voters are now looking for details about how he actually intends on following through. Deportation of undocumented immigrants was a big campaign promise, and one that many are now very worried about, especially since Trump made it clear he'd be making big changes immediately. But can Americans stop Trump's deportation plan? Probably not, although it's possible that there are already enough challenges in Trump's way on this issue that the plan might not be quite as straightforward or beneficial as he originally thought.
According to Money, Trump's proposed plan for border security has always included building a giant wall to separate the United States from Mexico, and immediately deporting the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants he estimated were in the country illegally. While he didn't specify details during his campaign, in his first television interview since winning the election, Trump told 60 Minutes Sunday that he still intends on doing both of those things, and that his focus will first be on deporting the 2 to 3 million immigrants who Trump said are "criminals." He said,
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. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.
Once he's done that, he says, the priority will be securing the border with a wall (or, at least, maybe a partial wall, since he's now said that a fence in certain places would also be acceptable, according to The Independent), and then moving ahead to make decisions about the remaining 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. But before we make that determination ... it’s very important, we are going to secure our border.
Of course, any talk of mass deportations is concerning, and prioritizing "criminals" could be a slippery slope. Especially since, according to Vox, the previous administrations under President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush have already made it pretty easy for Trump to enforce strict deportation rules. In fact, despite Trump's insinuation that Obama was lax on undocumented immigrants, Obama actually deported more per year during his presidency (400,000), than any other president.
But while, like Trump, Obama also prioritized those with criminal records, it's likely that Trump will want to go further. According to The Washington Post, Trump will almost certainly want to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which Obama put in place in 2012. DACA temporarily protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children from being deported, and allows them to access a work permit and a Social Security Number. And he might also want to reinstate physical raids of businesses to crack down on illegal labor, which was a strategy favored by President Bush, according to Vox.
One major problem Trump will face though as he attempts to move ahead with his plan for border security and deportation? The cost. According to Money, experts predict Trump's plan "could cost hundreds of billions of dollars to implement," and would require a huge increase in staffing. Currently, the United States has the ability to deport around 400,000 people per year (as in, roughly the maximum number Obama was deporting during his first term), so in order to actually deport 11 million people in two years like Trump has suggested, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division would have to hire approximately 90,000 more workers, according to the American Action Force, and, on the whole, Trump's immigration plan would cost taxpayers "up to $300 billion." That's also not including the cost of the wall itself, which is estimated to be around $25 billion — a hefty sum if Trump is unable to get Mexico to pay for it, as he's claimed.
The actual implementation of the plan isn't the only aspect of Trump's immigration policy that will have a big economic impact though. According to The Los Angeles Times, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, estimated that, despite Trump's argument that deporting undocumented immigrants would mean more jobs for Americans, it would likely actually reduce GDP growth by "about $880 billion," over the next 10 years. The projected labor shortage caused by Trump's plan, according to Money, would be comparable to removing "all the workers in both North and South Carolina," which, while it will likely drive up wages, would also increase inflation and interest rates, potentially leading to a recession "beginning roughly a year after Trump enters office," according to Moody's Analytics.
Given these implications, it's unclear whether Trump actually intends to move ahead with his full-scale immigration plan — or if the GOP will support it if he attempts to. Talk of building a big, beautiful wall and deporting 11 million people may have helped Trump shore up support among voters when he was trying to win an election, but actually instituting these policies is a different matter. There's no doubt that Trump's current talk of moving ahead with the first phase of deportation is still very concerning to many people though — especially since it won't be particularly difficult for him to ramp up that plan once he gets started. But as with so much about Trump's presidency still, it seems that we will still have to wait and see.