President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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President-elect Donald Trump is already preparing for the immigration overhaul he promised his supporters throughout the campaign season. Internal memos from the Department of Homeland Security show that the Trump transition team requested an assessment of available assets relating to border wall and barrier construction in December. They also asked for information on expanding immigration detention and even inquired about an aerial surveillance program at the border, something that President Obama had curtailed during his tenure in the White House.
The request also asked for clarification on whether federal workers have previously altered biographic information about immigrants in their internal records because they were concerned that the immigrants' civil liberties would be threatened.
Reuters reported that the requests came at a December 5 meeting between Department of Homeland Security officials and the Trump transition team, and reviewed a DHS internal memo documenting the meeting.
Although neither the transition team nor DHS officials responded to a request for comment, documents show that officials determined there are nearly 400 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border where new fencing could be put in, and about the same distance along the U.S.-Canadian border. Trump has not publicly stated that he has any plans to build a wall along the Canadian border.
The aerial surveillance program, Operation Phalanx, was authorized by President George W. Bush and deployed 6,000 National Guard airmen to monitor the Mexico border for drug trafficking and illegal immigration. Obama downsized the program and only authorized the operation to deploy 1,200 airmen.
Trump also asked for copies of every single executive order and directive sent to immigration agents since Obama's first term in 2009. He campaigned on a promise that he would undo Obama's executive order to allow children brought into the country by illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. and let them work or attend school.
The internal report estimated the construction on the southern border would cost nearly $11.37 billion dollars and aim to keep out pedestrians as well as vehicles.
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Sara Gonzales is the host of “The News & Why It Matters.”