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Trump pledges aggressive deportation plan with military

Former President Donald Trump and his aides announced that if re-elected, he would pursue more extreme immigration policies that include mass deportation of millions of people using militarized action.

“On day one, I will terminate every open border policy of the Biden administration, and we will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history,” Trump pledged last weekend on the campaign trail, reported PBS News Hour.

According to the Washington Post, Trump referenced the Eisenhower-era program “Operation Wetback,” a derogatory term for Mexican immigrants, which used military tactics to detain and deport migrant workers, sometimes in dangerous conditions that resulted in deaths.

Stephen Miller, who was the architect of Trump’s immigration plan during his first term, will also be the mastermind this time around. 

Last fall, Miller shared details of the deportation plan.

“Then, in terms of personnel, you go to the red state governors and you say, give us your National Guard. We will deputize them as immigration enforcement officers. The Alabama National Guard is going to arrest illegal aliens in Alabama and the Virginia National Guard in Virginia.”

Josh Nunn of the Brennan Center told PBS News Hour that this operation would require large-scale mobilization of the National Guard, who were not trained to be border agents and would be taken away from their regular duties abroad. They do not have the same training in civil and criminal laws as ICE and Border Patrol agents do that allow them to enforce immigration laws.

The Washington Post reported that Trump laid the groundwork during his first term, where he learned to install more officials at the Department of Homeland Security who would comply with his orders. This will make his return to office more effective with less internal resistance.

“Americans can expect that immediately upon President Trump’s return to the Oval Office, he will restore all of his prior policies, implement brand new crackdowns that will send shock waves to all the world’s criminal smugglers, and marshal every federal and state power necessary to institute the largest deportation operation in American history,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in a statement, adding that undocumented immigrants “should not get comfortable because very soon they will be going home.”

During his campaign, Trump has also said that he would sign an executive order to withhold government documentation and benefits for children of undocumented immigrants born in the US. This would have an outsized impact, as there are currently about 11 million immigrants in the US without legal status, according to most recent estimates reported by the Washington Post.

According to the Atlantic, these inflammatory comments from the ex-president come amidst the collapse he orchestrated of a bipartisan deal in the Senate to toughen border security, as well as a vote by the House Republicans to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for allegedly refusing to enforce immigration laws. Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbot, with the support of other GOP governors, has also placed pressure to seize greater control over immigration enforcement from the federal government.

However, experts, current, and former government officials have described Trump’s deportation proposal as alarming, impractical, and facing significant legal and logistical hurdles, reported the Washington Post. Jason Houser, US immigration and Customs Enforcement’s chief of staff from January 2022 until March 2023 called Trump’s plans “psychotic.”

“You’re talking about officers in tactical gear going into communities, being videotaped in the streets, putting kids in car seats, carrying baby formula. Then what do you do with those families?” said Houser. “Are you going to go into neighborhoods in Philly, New York, Baltimore and start tugging people out of communities? That’s what they want. It puts law enforcement and the communities at risk.”

Trump’s recent behavior on the campaign trail continues to wreak havoc for the current administration. PBS News Hour reported that last weekend, Trump outright encouraged Russia to invade NATO allies. The White House immediately responded, calling it unhinged and a threat to both national security and global stability.

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