Donald Trump, Far From Softening, Lays Out Tough Immigration Plans

Julia Preston, New York Times, September 1, 2016

With calls to end so-called sanctuary cities, create a deportation task force and maintain “zero tolerance for criminal aliens,” Donald J. Trump laid out a 10-point immigration plan on Wednesday in Phoenix that reverted to the tough, uncompromising talk on the issue that has powered his appeal to his strongest supporters. While he is no longer talking about immediately deporting the estimated 11 million people in the United States illegally, he also distanced himself from any notion that they could gain legal status anytime soon.

“There will be no amnesty,” Mr. Trump said with renewed determination.

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Mr. Trump said his main focus would be on swiftly deporting immigrants with criminal records. “Day 1, my first hour in office, those people are gone,” he said.

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As president, he said, he would issue an order immediately empowering enforcement agencies to be aggressive in hunting down immigrants with criminal records and speeding their deportation. He said that more than two million undocumented immigrants had some kind of criminal record and would be pursued for deportation.

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One big difference between Mr. Trump’s proposal and current policy is that the Obama administration has told enforcement agents to use discretion and avoid deporting undocumented immigrants with families in the country who committed no crimes or minor offenses like traffic violations. Mr. Trump said he would cancel any programs based on Mr. Obama’s discretionary policies, and he appears to be far more willing to deport people who have committed less serious crimes.

Another large difference is the speed and sweep of the deportation drive Mr. Trump proposes. He suggested he would find ways to deport many immigrants with new, expedited procedures. Immigration lawyers said it is within the president’s authority to set aside many due-process protections to order wide sweeps and accelerated removals.

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Mr. Trump added new detail to the idea of a special “deportation force” to carry out his plans. {snip}

Mr. Trump clarified that his primary plan is to add more agents to existing forces, including hiring an additional 5,000 for the Border Patrol and tripling Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s staff of deportation officers. {snip}

Sanctuary Cities

Mr. Trump said he would cancel federal funding for cities that have curtailed their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. He did not say which funding he meant.

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Legalization

While there had been speculation recently that Mr. Trump might be softening on legalization, he made it clear in Phoenix that his line is as hard as ever. He said there was “one route and one route only” for immigrants in the country illegally: “to return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else.” This self-deportation option seemed to echo a similar idea by Mitt Romney, the onetime governor of Massachusetts, when he was the Republican nominee in 2012.

In practice, immigrants who depart could face years of uncertain waiting outside the country. Mr. Trump said his main purpose would be to send a clear message that “you cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country.”

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