A leaked internal memo from then-Sen. Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign reveals the president believed fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border could help prevent illegal immigration.
The memo from September 2008, made public by anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, contains a list of Obama’s immigration promises and proposals, The Daily Caller reports.
The memo identified reducing illegal immigration as one of Obama’s core goals, and suggested that “combined with an earned path to citizenship for the undocumented and new legal alternatives to unauthorized entry, some additional fencing could help get the border under control.”
Unlike President-elect Donald Trump’s promise of a border wall, Obama pledged to support fencing only “under very specific circumstances, where it makes sense as a matter of security and to act as a deterrent to unsafe undocumented entry.”
The memo also mentions “fencing should be built where necessary and agreed to in coordination with local governments, Indian tribes and done in an environmentally sensitive manner.”
The U.S. currently has 650 miles of fencing in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico on the Mexican border, at a cost of approximately $7 billion, ABC News reports. The standing fences were built primarily under President George W. Bush, and no additional fencing was added during the Obama administration.
Despite a lack of fencing, the Obama administration has managed to expel almost 2.5 million people in the country illegally during his presidency, including 530,000 convicted criminals -- the most of any president. Trump promised to outdo that number on Nov. 13, claiming he will deport 2 to 3 million “criminals” from the U.S. after he takes office.
“We suspect [Trump’s] gearing up to implement a very harsh and radical deportation regime and he’s going to deploy it under the pretext [migrants] are criminals, when they are not,” Frank Sharry, head of America's Voice, an immigration advocacy group, told the Los Angeles Times.
According to two senior transition team officials, Trump’s advisers aim to target those who have been charged with a crime but not convicted, suspected gang members, suspected drug dealers and people charged with immigration violations.
“For all the talk about how [Trump’s election] is a radical departure and the end of the world and Hitler is coming, this is taking the handcuffs off and going back to more of what Obama did, but in a change of degree,” said Mark Krikorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies.
When asked in an interview with CBS show "60 Minutes" whether he would include fencing in his immigration reform, Trump said he maintains his promise to build a wall, but he would consider the option in areas where it is "more appropriate," The Wall Street Journal reports.