Donald Trump has vowed to immediately deport 3million illegal immigrants with criminal records in one of his first acts as President of the United States.
The President-elect said that “we’re getting them out of our country” as he renewed his pledge to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
His comments opened a clear split with Paul Ryan, the Republican House Speaker, who repeatedly refused to endorse Mr Trump during the election campaign.
Mr Ryan said that he wanted to put people’s “minds at ease” and assure them that Mr Trump’s administration will on securing the border instead of building a deportation task force.
Within minutes of his comments CBS released an excerpt from its interview with Mr Trump, however, in which he made clear that the mass deportations will be going ahead.
He said:“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”
He said that once the border is “secure” immigration officials will make a “determination” about the remaining illegal immigrants in the US, but hinted that they may be allowed to stay.
He said: “After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that they’re talking about who are terrific people, they’re terrific people but we are gonna make a determination at that. But before we make that determination…it’s very important, we are going to secure our border.”
Asked whether he plans to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, Mr Trump replied “yes”. He made the commitment after Newt Gingrich, one of his most senior allies, described the wall as a “great campaign device.
He admitted, however, that the wall will in fact have “some fencing”. “For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate,” he said. “I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.”
It came after Mr Gingrich told Fox News: “I suspect he is going to dramatically reinforce border control and customs agents and develop appropriate walls and fences which we know work.
“Hungary reduced the number of refugees coming in by 99 per cent in one day simply by building an effective fence and policing it. We know it can be done, countries have done it all over the World.”
The divisions between Mr Trump and Mr Ryan are likely to become one of the key points of tension in the new administration.
Asked about the prospect of mass deportations, Mr Ryan said: “We should put people’s minds at ease, that is not what our focus is. We’re focused on securing the border.
“We’re not focused on, we are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump’s not planning on that.”
It came as Mr Trump appeared to mock a series of leading Republicans, including George Bush, who congratulated him on his victory after failing to back him during the campaign.