Trump: We're gonna be deporting millions

Tonight marks the official launch of President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, with a large rally being held in Florida. Of course, I’m not sure how we’re supposed to be able to tell this. Did the campaign ever actually end? In any event, he’s setting the theme early, with an overnight announcement that there will be a surge in deportations of illegal aliens. This isn’t much of a surprise, really. Trump ran on immigration as a key campaign issue in 2016 and he’s no doubt planning on doing the same thing next year. The usual suspects are up in arms, as you would expect. (Associated Press)

President Donald Trump is threatening to remove millions of people in the country illegally.

In a late-night tweet Monday, Trump says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin the removal process next week. He tells his Twitter followers, “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

An administration official says the effort will focus on people who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain at large in the country.

Saying we’re going to remove millions of illegal aliens sounds good on paper, and there are definitely millions in need of removal. (More like tens of millions, actually.) But is it feasible? Taking a quick look at the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations report for 2018, we find that ERO made 158,581 arrests in all of last year. In terms of deportations (including those initially detained in previous years), ERO removed 256,086 illegal aliens in 2018. So that’s roughly a quarter of a million for the entire year.

I’m fairly sure that the President wasn’t implying that ICE has been lollygagging up until now. They’ve been running on high octane pretty much since the moment Donald Trump finished taking the oath of office. Ramping up these operations by several orders of magnitude seems to be an impossible task. From what we’ve heard lately, we have neither the funding nor the manpower to expand ERO operations to that degree. With all this in mind, I’m assuming that the President was speaking figuratively when he said “millions.”

The other bone of contention for the media this morning is whether or not the President tipped off all the illegal aliens by announcing such a massive operation in advance. That seems rather silly. There have been major busts of employers who hire illegals and other sweeping arrests taking place on a weekly basis ever since Trump came to town. The targets of these raids already know that ICE is coming for them. If the President had tweeted a specific business or even named a city, then ICE would likely be concerned about tipping their hand. But in this case, it was more of a general policy statement.

All in all, this doesn’t represent any sort of policy shift, nor is the President undermining the ICE agenda. He’s preparing to kick off a campaign and he’s reminding people that immigration enforcement remains one of his top priorities. That’s really all we’re dealing with here.