WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump’s tough-talking plan to rein in illegal immigration showed signs of cracking on Sunday, with the president-elect seemingly backing off his vow to build a solid wall along the southern U.S. border and the top House Republican rejecting any “deportation force” targeting people in the country illegally.
In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Trump said Sunday he would accept a fence in some places along the U.S. southern border where he had promised to build a wall.
During his campaign he insisted he would deport 11 million people living in the country illegally, with exceptions. But he distanced himself from that position as time went on, and in his first television interview since winning the presidential election, Trump said he’s willing to deport or incarcerate 2 million to 3 million people living in the country illegally who “are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers.”
Earlier Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, also told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “we are not planning on erecting a deportation force.” Ryan said “I think we should put people’s minds at ease” on mass deportation because the top priority is really border security.
On that, both men agreed Sunday, with the president-elect emphasizing that securing the border is his first immigration priority.
Trump campaigned on a promise to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. The promise elicited chants of “Build that Wall” from the thousands throughout the country who packed his rallies. Mexico has said it would not pay for the construction of a border wall.
Nearly 700 miles of fencing was put in place during President George W. Bush’s second term and the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term.
The fencing is placed largely in urban areas along the nearly 2,000-mile frontier. It is not the type of solid wall that Trump has pledged to construct at Mexico’s expense. The fence has miles-long gaps and gates built in to allow landowners access to their property on the south side of the fencing. Immigrants have been known to go over and around the fence.