Why Donald Trump won't be able to deport three million illegal immigrants

'A lot of these people, probably two million – it could be even three million – we are getting them out of the country,' says the President-elect

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The Independent US

Donald Trump has said he plans to “immediately” deport two to three million undocumented immigrants with criminal records when he is inaugurated in January.

But that could prove trickier than he thinks, because there may not actually be that many of them living in America.

According to US government estimates, there are 1.9 million “removeable criminal aliens”, or non-US citizens who have committed crimes and are eligible for deportation, in the country.

This figure is not limited to illegal immigrants, and includes people from other countries living in the US legally – green card holders, for instance – who could still be sent home for breaking the law.

This means the actual number of people who fit the criteria the President-elect has said he hopes to deport could be even lower, reported political statistics site FiveThirtyEight.

In his first interview after his election victory, Mr Trump told 60 Minutes he was going to “get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers.”

Interviewer Lesley Stahl had asked him if he intended to keep his campaign pledge to deport “millions and millions of undocumented immigrants.”

“A lot of these people, probably two million – it could be even three million – we are getting them out of the country or we are going to incarcerate,” said the President-elect.

The 2013 Department for Homeland Security report said 195,772 non-US citizens convicted of crimes were deported in 2010 and set a target of 224,000 for 2013.

It estimated that “approximately 900,000 arrests of aliens for crimes occur every year and that approximately 550,000 criminal aliens convicted of crimes exit law enforcement custody every year.”

“[The US government] has never had the capability to identify, arrest and remove all of these criminal aliens,” it said.

There are around 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, according to the Pew Research Centre.

More than half of those living in America illegally are from Mexico, it found in a recent report.

Mr Trump said he still planned to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, but in certain areas there “could be some fencing”.

The Pew Research Centre estimates that five per cent of the US civilian workforce is not authorised to work in the country.

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