After his shock victory in the US election, and a thoroughly toxic campaign, President-elect Donald Trump struck a conciliatory note in his victory speech.
“It’s time to bind the wounds of division,” the Republican candidate said, after a campaign in which he called Mexicans “rapists”, and claimed a judge was biased against him because of his Mexican heritage.
But less than a week later, Trump has revived his own hardline rhetoric. In an interview with the network CBS, he said there were “two million, it could be even three million” illegal immigrants who should be deported because of their criminal records.
Asked if he was still determined to “build a wall” on the US-Mexico border, Trump said: “Yes.”
There are estimated to be roughly 11m undocumented migrants in the US, the legacy of years of migration from poorer Latin American countries to the world’s biggest economic power. Until recently, the focus of politicians has been integrating the “Dreamers” – those who came as children, but have spent the bulk of their lives in the US and are culturally American.
Trump was widely viewed as winning the election on the back of anti-immigrant sentiment, but he initially toned down his rhetoric on other policies. He said that he might keep parts of Obamacare, as the healthcare reform is known, and no longer demanded the jailing of his rival in the race, Hillary Clinton.
However, while he may go ahead with his wall, Trump is unlikely to persuade Mexico – as he promised in the campaign – to “pay for it”, especially if he has just flooded the country with millions of undocumented migrants.