In line with his campaign promises, President-elect Donald Trump said he would immediately deport two to three million undocumented immigrants he claims are criminals.
“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,” he said in an interview with 60 Minutes. “But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”
Despite plenty of research showing that immigrants are not more likely to be criminals than native-born Americans, the conspiracy theory that immigrants are criminals persists. There are some 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in America; if three million of them were criminals, that would constitute about 26 percent of the total population. It's also not clear where Trump is getting his numbers from. There are only about 41,000 immigrants being held in custody by the Department of Homeland Security—and that's a record-high.
This level of deportations would be truly unprecedented. As noted by Politico's Bill Scher on Twitter, if Trump deports three million people immediately, as he's saying, it will be nearly equivalent to the total amount of deportations under President Obama—who has earned the derogatory title of "Deporter-in-Chief" from immigrant rights groups for his harsh policies.
During a separate interview with CNN's State of the Union Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan denied that the U.S. is going to build a mass "deportation force" and reiterated that he and Trump's goal is to "secure the border"—whatever that means.
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.