Donald Trump’s proposed actions upon assuming power in a new administration involve granting himself extensive powers, including deploying a significant number of U.S. troops—potentially “hundreds of thousands”—to secure the southern border and establish a network of immigrant detention camps, as reported by Rolling Stone, citing sources familiar with the matter. Trump envisions treating migrant crossings as a “war” on American soil, a sentiment echoed by him and his associates.
The former president is keen on assembling aides and legal advisors sympathetic to his cause to make such policies legally sound in a potential second term. Although the likelihood of a second Trump administration is uncertain, organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union are gearing up for potential executive orders involving military authorities if he secures a victory, according to legal experts and activists.
Trump and his inner circle have discussed deploying a “surge” of federal troops to the U.S.-Mexico border immediately after a potential reelection, expressing a desire to seal the border and implement stringent measures. Sources reveal that Trump has mentioned deploying “many thousands” of troops, and there are varying opinions on the scale, with estimates ranging from tens of thousands to potentially hundreds of thousands.
The former president has reportedly considered invoking the Insurrection Act to confer military powers for border control, a move that would require an unprecedented power grab. Trump’s plans for a second term also involve expanding the travel ban, using pandemic-era Title 42 restrictions, and initiating what he claims would be the “largest domestic deportation operation in American history.”
These initiatives would necessitate the construction of expansive camps for mass detentions, raising concerns among critics and sources close to Trump. The potential use of thousands of federal troops to build and manage such camps for undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation has been discussed by Trump and his political allies. Legal experts anticipate that a second Trump administration would likely result in fewer safeguards in immigration law, enabling officials to adopt increasingly creative measures. The Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force, could be circumvented by invoking the Insurrection Act. Critics argue that this move would grant the president excessive discretion to use the military domestically.
The Insurrection Act, designed as an emergency tool, lacks the precise limitations necessary for careful implementation. Trump’s private musings about limited dictatorship and his history of defying norms raise concerns about the extent of his utilization of the broad powers granted by the act. Predictions from MAGA policy experts and former administration officials suggest that Trump’s authoritarian immigration plans could lead to high-profile resignations among senior military officers who are reluctant to execute unlawful orders.
The ACLU and other organizations express readiness to employ legal means to counter such plans, including litigation. However, the ultimate extent of Trump’s actions in a potential second term remains uncertain, with discussions in his inner circle subject to fluidity. While Trump has publicly hinted at implementing his desired policies, the practical execution could be scaled back.
In a public address, Trump declared his intention to terminate every open-borders policy of the Biden administration and emphasized the use of all resources, including redeploying troops stationed overseas, to halt what he termed an “invasion.” Private conversations reveal Trump’s contemplation of pulling American troops from other nations, such as Germany, to bolster a military presence on the U.S.-Mexico border. Miles Taylor, a former Trump Department of Homeland Security official, witnessed similar ideas from the then-president being thwarted by legal challenges. Trump’s ambitions included sending “hundreds of thousands of troops to the southern border” for enforcement purposes, a plan that faced opposition within his administration.