Meanwhile the LA Times runs the numbers on Trump's mass deportation scheme and finds out we're going to have to stuff more than 8 million people in those deportation facilities they want to build.
Far from targeting only “bad hombres,” as Trump has said repeatedly, his new order allows immigration agents to detain nearly anyone they come in contact with who has crossed the border illegally. People could be booked into custody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunches.
The deportation targets are a much larger group than those swept up in the travel bans that sowed chaos at airports and seized public attention over the past week. Fewer than 1 million people came to the U.S. over the past decade from the seven countries from which most visitors are temporarily blocked.
Deportations of this scale, which has not been publicly totaled before, could have widely felt consequences: Families would be separated. Businesses catering to immigrant customers may be shuttered. Crops could be left to rot, unpicked, as agricultural and other industries that rely on immigrant workforces face labor shortages. U.S. relations could be strained with countries that stand to receive an influx of deported people, particularly in Latin America. Even the Social Security system, which many immigrants working illegally pay into under fake identification numbers, would take a hit.
The new instructions represent a wide expansion of President Obama’s focus on deporting only recent arrivals, repeat immigration violators and people with multiple criminal violations. Under the Obama administration, only about 1.4 million people were considered priorities for removal.
“We are going back to enforcement chaos — they are going to give lip service to going after criminals, but they really are going to round up everybody they can get their hands on,” said David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. and an immigration lawyer for more than two decades.
And the 8 million number is a floor, not a ceiling. As I pointed out yesterday, these orders are ridiculously broad.
Trump's orders instruct officers to deport not only those convicted of crimes, but also those who aren’t charged but are believed to have committed "acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense."
That category applies to the 6 million people believed to have entered the U.S. without passing through an official border crossing. The rest of the 11.1 million people in the country illegally, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, are believed to have entered on a valid visa and stayed past its expiration date.
Also among those 11.1 million are about 8 million jobholders, Pew found. The vast majority have worked in violation of the law by stating on federal employment forms that they were legally allowed to work. Trump’s order calls for targeting anyone who lied on the forms.
Trump’s deportation priorities also include smaller groups whose totals remain elusive: people in the country illegally who are charged with crimes that have not yet been adjudicated and those who receive an improper welfare benefit, used a fake identity card, were found driving without a license or received federal food assistance.
An additional executive order under consideration would block entry to anyone the U.S. believes may use benefit programs such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, according two Trump administration officials who have seen the draft order.
Combined, we're talking about tossing, three, maybe four percent of the country in jail and ejecting them from America. And if Republicans get rid of birthright citizenship as they seem to want to do, that number could be far, far higher.