Here's What We Know About Donald Trump's Immigration Plan

November 13th 2016

President-elect Donald Trump's campaign promises about immigration reform have some advocates worried. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to build a giant wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, order massive deportations, and institute a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, among other things.

Now that Trump's the president-elect, some immigrants and their families face an uncertain future.

The number of calls to the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles' information hotline shot up the day after the election, Jorge-Mario Cabrera, the organization's communications director, told ATTN:.

"The next day after his election, literally we were at the office around 7 a.m. that next day, and that's when the phone started ringing," Cabrera said. "There were hundreds of calls, and our front staff were just overwhelmed. It was [immigrants] just not knowing what to do."

Trump and his supporters may already be backing away from some of Trump's more extreme campaign positions.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told CNN's "State of the Union" that the Trump administration is not "planning on erecting a deportation force," notwithstanding Trump's earlier promise to round up all undocumented immigrants for deportation.

"I think we should put people's minds at ease," Ryan said. "We're focused on securing the border. We think that's first and foremost, before we get into any other immigration issue, we've got to know who's coming and going into the country — we've got to secure the border."

But Trump promised in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview airing Sunday night to focus on deporting millions of undocumented immigrants "that are criminal," according to The Guardian.

"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 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country, or we are going to incarcerate," he reportedly told "60 Minutes."

Trump adviser and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, implied that the wall rhetoric was mainly a campaign promise.

"He'll spend a lot of time controlling the border. He may not spend very much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it, but it was a great campaign device," Gingrich said Thursday, The Washington Post reported.

Trump's plan to ban Muslim immigration disappeared from his campaign website the week before the election, but reappeared after he won, ABC News reported.

We don't have the details for Trump's full immigration plan. But we do know what he promised during his campaign.

Trump's administration transition website has his campaign's 10-point plan for immigration enforcement.

Here's what we know about Trump's immigration plan so far:

1. Trump wants to build an "impenetrable" giant wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump said he would force Mexico to pay for the wall. But the Mexican government — including former president Vicente Fox — said it won't.

The Trump transition website doesn't address that issue.

2. Trump wants his administration to end the practice of so-called "catch-and-release."

People who are caught at the border trying to enter the U.S. would be detained and then deported.

3. Trump would "move criminal aliens out, day one."

4. Trump wants to end sanctuary cities by pulling federal funding from them.

Cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York limit cooperation with the federal government on detaining illegal immigrants.

5. Trump wants to reverse President Barack Obama's immigration executive orders, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.

The orders protect certain children and families from deportation.

Trump aims to make "anyone who enters the U.S. illegally" eligible to be deported. He also wants to triple the number of border agents.

6. Trump would temporarily halt immigration from places where "adequate screening cannot occur."

Trump has specifically said he would target Muslim countries.

7. Other countries would have to take their citizens back when they are deported.

8. Trump wants a biometric visa tracking system.

Such a system would track unique biological traits, such as fingerprints, for anyone with a visa entering or leaving the country.

9. Trump wants to "turn off the jobs and benefits magnet."

That policy would make it harder for employers to hire undocumented workers.

10. Trump also wants to reduce legal immigration to what he calls "historic norms."

So what could this plan mean for millions of Americans?

Details are scarce, which makes it difficult to assess the plan's potential effects, said Daniel Costa, the Economic Policy Institute's director of immigration law and policy research.

"It's hard to know if he's really going to do all of this," Costa told ATTN:. "I'm certainly worried, and other people who care about immigrants' rights are worried."


Congress would need to approve Trump's proposals to build a wall, pull federal funding from sanctuary cities, and suspend immigration from Muslim countries.

A Republican-controlled House and Senate could grant Trump's plan the funding it needs. "There may be some push-back from business Republicans and people who are more fiscally conservative, but I think the Republican Party has shown a willingness to go down this route," Costa said.

But the proposals' ultimate cost could turn off fiscal conservatives: Cost estimates for Trump's immigration plan run as high as $166 billion, according to Politico.

Ending the so-called "catch and release" policy of the U.S. Border Patrol and detaining and deporting more people would add significant costs to the immigration system, according to Costa.

The U.S. would probably need more judges and court employees, as well as more staffing and facilities for detention centers. "There's already massive backlogs in the system. There's something of a backlog [of,] like, 500,000 cases," Costa said. "They would have to contract out to build new prisons."

Costa said the price tag depends on how many people Trump actually tries to deport. "It's going to depend on how many people he thinks he can deport per year, and the system's going to have to ramp up proportionally," he said.

Although it's "difficult to estimate these costs with any reasonable degree of certainty," Costa said that mass deportations would significantly affect U.S. industries.

"Unauthorized immigrant workers make up about 5 percent of the labor force, and most have been here for at least 10 years," he said. "Unauthorized workers are also disproportionally employed in certain industries, like agriculture, hospitality, and construction. So removing them would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy and especially those industries."

Ending Obama's executive actions doesn't require congressional approval and can happen immediately.

Cabrera, the communications director from CHIRLA, said that his organization is consulting federal officials and immigration lawyers about Trump's proposed plan.

"We don't have many specifics on what Mr. Trump promises he would do," Cabrera said. "We can't give too many assurances yet at this point, but we can tell them that Mr. Trump is not yet our nation's president."

For now, the organization is advising undocumented immigrants and people who have applied for immigration and citizenship programs to get back in the country before Trump's inauguration in January.

"If they have applied for advance parole, and their plans to leave the country are already in place, we recommend that they need to come back generally by the 20th," said Cabrera.

It's important for undocumented immigrants not to panic and to be wary of people making promises that seem too good to be true: Cabrera said a climate of fear and uncertainty attracts fraud.

"There will be a lot of fraudulent offers," Cabrera said. He added that the immigration system is complicated, and fraudsters can take advantage of that. "Only someone who is really willing to help them and not charge them tremendously will be able to help them navigate that."

CHIRLA has received hundreds of calls from concerned immigrants — as well as a lot more hate calls since the election, Cabrera said.

"On the other side we are getting hate calls that say 'Go back to Mexico,' all the way through to threats," Cabrera said.

"I'm from El Salvador, so I personally find the 'Go back to Mexico' calls amusing. But if we find that they're [credible] or disturbing, then we will contact police," Cabrera said. He added that CHIRLA is preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. "We really are preparing for some tough moments for our community," he said. "We're going to be prepared to fight this."

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