President-elect Donald Trump could not immediately roundup and remove every undocumented immigrant from the United States on his first day of office because of legal, logistical and financial limitations, a San Diego immigration attorney told NBC 7 Friday.
There is an estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrant population in the United States.
Over the past fiscal year, the Obama administration removed approximately 250,000 of them through immigration proceedings. A large portion included people with serious felony convictions.
“It’s not realistic that everyone is going to be removed from the United States. It’s a very expensive and time consuming process,” David Schlesinger said.
Schlesinger is a San Diego appellate attorney who specializes in immigration cases in the federal court system.
He estimates the current budget for US immigration proceedings would allow the government to realistically remove up to 400,000 undocumented immigrants per fiscal year. That’s between 2 and 4 percent of the undocumented population in the U.S.
To remove more, the Trump Administration would need more funding from Congress.
Trump cannot change the laws to create a so-called “roundup” of undocumented immigrants, Schlesinger said.
“What he cannot do is simply put people on buses or rail cars or planes and move them immediately out of the United States,” he said. “That’s neither permitted by Congressional statute or by the U.S. Constitution.”
In theory, Congress could appropriate money so more immigration judges could be hired and more courts and detention facilities could be established.
Also, the head of Trump’s immigration transition team has signaled the administration would support more raids to uncover undocumented workers and the employers who hire them.
Since 2012, an executive order by President Obama known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has offered permits for young people brought into the U.S. as children to stay. The permits are renewable every two years.
According to statements made at Trump's campaign rallies, it seems almost certain the program will be ended, Schlesinger said. In that case, the 700,000 young people across the country (an estimated 300,000 in California) who have registered with the DACA program under Obama "will be put back in the broad pool of undocumented immigrants and eventually removed from the United States.”
Schlesinger said he does not want people to panic, but be more vigilant and seek legal advice if they are concerned.
“People need to have a heightened sense of awareness. There is much more of a possibility of being removed than there had been,” he said.