Funding, Court Process Could Slow President-Elect’s Plan to Deport 3 Million Illegal Immigrants, Experts Say

President-elect Donald Trump has said he plans to deport up to three million people with criminal backgrounds, including rapists, drug traffickers and gang members.

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President-elect Donald Trump's immigration plan is not unlike President Barack Obama's initial immigration plan, according to some experts. 

Trump has said he plans to deport up to three million people with criminal backgrounds, including rapists, drug traffickers and gang members.

Immigration attorney Ginger Jacobs says the idea is not unlike President Obama's from several years ago.

“These are the people Obama has gone after to be the number one priority for deportation,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said in 2015, under Obama, 56 percent of the estimated 250,000 deported undocumented immigrants had some type of criminal record.

The maximum number that can be deported with existing resources is 400,000, experts say. However, everyone has the right to fight the immigration case in court, Jacobs says, which can take years.

“If you do the math, on 400,000 people per year, and even if you were going for two to three million, that still gets you to seven and a half years to get to those three million.”

Former U.S. attorney Pete Nunez says deportations can happen more quickly.

He says more money for judges, detention centers and federal agents is not the only answer. Nunez says Congress can make the system more efficient and effective.

“It is conceivable Congress could change the process to make it more efficient, more effective and work faster, so just that change could make the system better," he said. 

Even that isn’t necessary to speed up the process, Nunez said.

“Just adding an Administration to do what the law says and turning loose DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and ICE to do their jobs, you might see an increase," Nunez said. "There's no longer a political animal in the White House telling them, don't do your job.”

Jacob says it’s unrealistic to think two to three million people could be removed.

“It's very possible that people who are fighting their immigration cases that their case might outlast any given administration their case may take longer than four years," Jacobs said. "So this idea that all of a sudden two to three million people, poof, are going to be gone is a fantasy.”

The millions of people represent non-citizens with criminal backgrounds, says Jacobs. According to records from 2012, 800,000 who are in this country illegally have criminal records. The others have green cards or visas or are refugees. 

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