IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Team Trump eyes militarized deportations, detention camps in second term

At the heart of Donald Trump's second term immigration plans are militarized mass deportations and mass detention camps. It's a promise he intends to keep.


It was about four months ago when The New York Times reported on Donald Trump’s plan for “an extreme expansion of his first-term crackdown on immigration” if given a second term, including “sharp” restrictions on illegal and legal immigration. Highlighting some of the details of the reporting, I noted that the Republican envisioned “a governing model in which the government actually rounds up people and puts them in camps.”

Soon after, National Review, a leading conservative outlet, appeared to take issue with my description of the GOP candidate’s intentions. But as new reporting comes to light, there’s fresh evidence to suggest the descriptions of Trump’s plan weren’t hyperbolic.

The Washington Post reported this week, for example, that the Republican, during his term, was “obsessed” with involving the U.S. military in border enforcement, and he intends to follow through on his “unfinished business” if given the opportunity.

Trump pledges that as president he would immediately launch “the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.” As a model, he points to an Eisenhower-era program known as “Operation Wetback,” using a derogatory slur for Mexican migrants. The operation used military tactics to round up and remove migrant workers, sometimes transporting them in dangerous conditions that led to some deaths. Former administration officials and policy experts said staging an even larger operation today would face a bottleneck in detention space — a problem that Trump adviser Stephen Miller and other allies have proposed addressing by building mass deportation camps.

The likely GOP nominee’s political operation hasn’t denied any of this. On the contrary, a Trump campaign spokesperson told the Post that the Republican would “marshal every federal and state power necessary to institute the largest deportation operation in American history.”

This, of course, is the same Trump who has said more than once that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” echoing similar phrasing used by Adolf Hitler.

To be sure, the former president has made similar promises in the past, only to fail to follow through. That said, there’s reason to believe his second term would be more radical, thanks to the lessons learned in his first. As the Post’s report added, “Trump learned to install more officials at the Department of Homeland Security who would carry out his orders instead of trying to curb his impulses.”

The issue came up at a Fox News event this week, in which host Laura Ingraham asked Trump about the practicality of identifying and deporting millions of people who are already in the United States. “We’re gonna find them through local police,” the former president responded.

In other words, if voters reward Trump with a second term, he intends to use local police departments to track down undocumented immigrants, many of whom would then be housed in mass deportation camps.

“Mass detention camps, attempts to deny children born here citizenship, uprooting families with mass deportations — this is the horrifying reality that awaits the American people if Donald Trump is allowed anywhere near the Oval Office again,” President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign said in November. “These extreme, racist, cruel policies dreamed up by him and his henchman Stephen Miller are meant to stoke fear and divide us, betting a scared and divided nation is how he wins this election.”