Donald Trump just got more specific on his immigration plan.
During an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday morning, Trump announced he is prepared to launch a “deportation force” if he’s elected president to rid the country of 11 million immigrants estimated to be living in the shadows.
“You are going to have a deportation force, and you are going to do it humanely,” Trump said, in response to a question asking how, specifically, he would track down and deport millions.
The mogul said such a force would send immigrants “back where they came,” with the caveat that individuals could come back as long as they took the necessary steps to re-enter the United States legally.
“You have millions of people who are waiting in line to come into this country, and they are waiting to come in legally,” Trump said.
But even locating individuals for deportation could be a major obstacle for a Trump administration. While the Pew Research Center estimates that 60 percent of undocumented immigrants are living in six states—California, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York—there is no database detailing where every immigrant is residing. That means it would be a major task just to locate individuals, not to mention deport them. The American Action Forum—a center-right policy center—estimated in the spring that deporting America’s illegal immigrant population would cost the country upward of $400 billion. And the group noted it would hardly be effective immediately. Rather, it would take nearly two decades to complete.
Candidates sharing the debate stage with Trump Tuesday night did their best to overshadow his deportation plan—which hadn’t yet included the “force”—with reality. Ohio Gov. John Kasich emphasized that a massive deportation plan would break up families and be impossible to implement.
“It is not an adult argument,” Kasich said. “It makes no sense.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who supports a path to legal status for immigrants living in the United States illegally, chimed in that merely mentioning mass deportation puts a Republican candidate at a disadvantage in the general election.
“They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now as they hear this,” Bush said.
But on Wednesday morning, Trump wasn’t about to stop at launching his “deportation force.” He also reaffirmed his commitment to building a wall at the Mexican border and taking away birthright citizenship.
“A woman is pregnant, she goes over to the border, has a baby on our land, and now we have to take care of the baby for the next 85 years?” Trump said. “If that happened in Mexico, if you had a baby in Mexico, … Mexico would throw you the hell out.”
Trump said his plan is hardly radical.
“I have to tell you, so many people are in love with it,” he said.
There surely is one person who loves it: Hillary Clinton, who is happy to go head-to-head with an anti-immigrant candidate at a time when Pew estimates 800,000 Latino voters will turn 18 in the year between now and Election Day.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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