Can Donald Trump really round up and deport 11 million people?

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At rallies and debates over the last year, Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to round up and deport the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally, sometimes saying he would eject them all in two years.

Over the last four days, however, the GOP presidential nominee and his top aides have issued contradictory signals as to whether Trump is backing off that core campaign pledge.

Aides have not said if Trump’s plan is under review because it appears politically unpalatable with moderate Republicans, or because forced deportations of millions of people would be prohibitively expensive and probably logistically impossible.

For now, the campaign has yet to provide specifics on how mass removals would be carried out, who would be targeted, and how much it would cost.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 235,413 people last year, down from a record high of 409,849 in 2012, according to ICE records.

The fall-off followed the Obama administration’s efforts to target individuals who threaten public safety or national security and not deport those with clean records and strong family ties in the U.S.

Independent groups have expressed widespread skepticism that a Trump administration could dramatically ramp up that process without disrupting key sectors of the economy, tearing apart millions of families and violating civil liberties on a mass scale.  

In May, a report by the right-leaning think tank American Action Forum estimated that finding, detaining, legally processing and deporting everyone who is in the country illegally would cost up to $300 billion.

To meet Trump’s two-year goal, the report said, Congress would need to appropriate money to hire, train and field about 90,000 immigration apprehension agents — up from 5,000 Enforcement and Removal Operations officers today.

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