Pence: 'We Have a Deportation Force. It's Called Immigration and Customs Enforcement'

Susan Jones | October 5, 2016 | 5:26am EDT
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Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine, right, walk past each other after the vice-presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

( - Braving repeated interruptions from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) at Tuesday's vice presidential debate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said Donald Trump  has "laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country."

Pence also refuted Kaine's contention that Trump will create a "deportation force" to forcibly remove millions of illegal immigrants. "Senator, we have a deportation force," Pence said. "It's called Immigrations and Customs Enforcement."

"So you like the the 16 million deportations?" Kaine shot back.

"Senator, that's -- that's nonsense," Pence said. "Look, what you just heard is, they have a plan for open borders, amnesty. That's-- (Kaine interrupted).

Pence said Trump will deport criminal aliens.

Here's how the exchange went, minus some of Kaine's aggressive interruptions:

Moderator Elaine Quijano told the candidates, "I want to turn to our next segment now, immigration. Your running mates have both said that undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes should be deported. What would you tell the millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed violent crimes? Governor Pence?"

"Donald Trump's laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country," Pence replied. "We've been talking it to death for 20 years. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to continue the policies of open borders, amnesty, catch and release, sanctuary cities, all the things that are driving -- that are driving wages down in this country, Senator, and also too often with criminal aliens in the country, it's bringing heartbreak.

"But I -- Donald Trump has a plan that he laid out in Arizona, that will deal systemically with illegal immigration, beginning with border security, internal enforcement. It's probably why for the first time in the history of Immigration and Customs Enforcement their union actually endorsed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, because they know they need help to enforce the laws of this country.

"And Donald Trump has laid out a priority to remove criminal aliens, remove people that have overstayed their visas. And -- and once we have accomplished all of that, which will -- which will strengthen our economy, strengthen the rule of law in the country and make our communities safer once the criminal aliens are out, then we'll deal with those that remain."

"Immigration," Kaine said, when he finally got around to the topic at hand. "There's two plans on the table. Hillary and I believe in comprehensive immigration reform. Donald Trump believes in deportation nation. You've got to pick your choice.

"Hillary and I want a bipartisan reform that will put keeping families together as the top goal; second, that will help focus enforcement efforts on those who are violent; third, that will do more border control; and fourth, that will provide a path to citizenship for those who work hard, pay taxes, play by the rules, and take criminal background record checks.

"That's our proposal. Donald Trump proposes to deport 16 million people, 11 million who are here without documents. And both Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to get rid of birthright citizenship. So if you're born here, but your parents don't have documents, they want to eliminate that. That's another 4.5 million people.

"These guys -- and Donald Trump have said it -- deportation force. They want to go house to house, school to school, business to business, and kick out 16 million people. And I cannot believe--"

"That's nonsense," Pence said. "That's nonsense."


"I cannot believe that Governor Pence would sit here and defend his running mate's claim that we should create a deportation force to -- so that they'll all be gone."

"Senator, we have a deportation force," Pence said. "It's called Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. And the union for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for the first time in their history endorsed Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States of America.

"So you like the 16 million deportations?" Kaine asked.

"Senator, that's -- that's nonsense," Pence said. "Look, what you just heard is they have a plan for open borders, amnesty. That's--"

Kaine interrupted: "Our plan is like Ronald Reagan's plan from 1986."

Pence jumped in: "They call it comprehensive immigration reform -- they call it comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill. We all know the routine. It's amnesty. And you heard one of the last things he mentioned was border security. That's how Washington always plays it...They always say we're going to do this, we're going to do that, we'll eventually get the border--"

Kaine interrupted, claiming that Pence was against border security three years ago.

"Ronald Reagan said a nation without borders is not a nation," Pence interjected. "Donald Trump is committed to restoring the borders of this nation and securing our nation, enforcing our laws."

"So, Governor, how would these millions of undocumented immigrants leave? Would they be forcibly removed?" the moderator asked  Pence.

"Well, I think Donald Trump laid out a series of priorities that doesn't end with border security. It begins with border security," Pence said. "And after we secure the border, not only build a wall, but beneath the ground and in the air, we do internal enforcement.

"But he said the focus has to be on criminal aliens. We just -- we just had a conversation about law enforcement. We just had a conversation about the -- the violence that's besetting our cities. The reality is that there's heartbreak and tragedy that has struck American families because people that came into this country illegally are now involved in criminal enterprise and activity. And we don't have the resources or the will to deport them systemically.

"Donald Trump has said we're going to move those people out, people who've overstayed their visas. We're going to enforce the law of this country. We're going to strengthen Immigrations and Customs Enforcements with more resources and more personnel to be able to do that. And then Donald Trump has made it clear, once we've done all of those things, that we're going to reform the immigration system that we have...

"That's the order that you should do it," Pence continued. "Border security, removing criminal aliens, upholding with law, and then -- but then, Senator, I'll work with you when you go back to the Senate, I promise you, we'll work (with) you to reform the immigration system."

"I look forward to working together in whatever capacities we serve in," Kaine said. "But I just want to make it very, very clear that he's trying to fuzz up what Donald Trump has said. When Donald Trump spoke in Phoenix, he looked the audience in the eye and he said, no, we're building a wall, and we're deporting everybody. He said, quote, 'They will all be gone. They will all be gone.' And this is one of these ones where you can just go to the tape on it and see what Donald Trump has said.

"He's talking about criminal aliens," Pence said.

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