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Trump Transition Team Filled with Hardline Anti-Immigration Advocates

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), left, walks with President-elect Donald Trump, center, and Trump's wife Melania, second right, before a meeting at The Capitol Building on November 10.
Zach Gibson | Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), left, walks with President-elect Donald Trump, center, and Trump's wife Melania, second right, before a meeting at The Capitol Building on November 10.

President-elect Donald Trump is assembling some of the most conservative opponents to illegal immigration for his transition into the White House.

Kris Kobach, Kansas' Secretary of State, who is a champion of tough anti-illegal immigration laws and ideas, has been hired for Trump's transition team.

"There's going to be a lot to do there in part because Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama are diametric opposites when it comes to immigration policy," Kobach told Kansas' KWCH. "So there will be a lot of changes."

President Obama was unable to get passed comprehensive immigration reform during his term, but he passed two executive actions that exempt DREAMers and their families from deportation.

In Trump's 10-point immigration plan, he says he will "cancel" the executive orders.

Kobach was the architect of Arizona's SB 1070 law which allows law enforcement to ask people for to prove their immigration status when there is "reasonable suspicion" that they might not be in the country legally. He also coined the idea of "self-deportation," which would make immigration laws so stringent that it would encourage people to leave the country.

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As for the wall along the southern border, Kobach said it will get built, "no question."

"The only question is how quickly will it get done and who helps pay for it," he said. Trump has vowed that Mexico will pay for it.

According to a document obtained by the New York Times, leading Trump's "Immigration Reform & Building the Wall" component of his transition is Danielle Cutrona.

She is Sen. Jeff Sessions' counsel on the Judiciary Committee. Sessions has long opposed illegal — and many forms of legal — immigration. During the campaign, Trump adopted many of Sessions' policy positions, including ending federal funding for sanctuary cities and ending "catch-and-release."

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said that "personnel is policy" at this point in the administration.

"Who is in the room and who is appointed to these positiosn has massive implications for the American economy, particularly when it comes to immigration," Noorani said.

Trump made immigration central to his candidacy, and after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan on Capitol Hill Thursday, he said immigration was his top priority.

As for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, Rep. Chris Collins of New York, one of Trump's earliest backers, said deporting them is not part of the plan and that after the border is secure and the "criminal element" is removed, Collins predicts some sort of legalization for the undocumented.

"I think we can do fundamental immigration reform," he said.