House Speaker rules out deportation force

House Speaker Paul Ryan plays down Trump's campaign rhetoric on illegal immigrants.

Ben Ariel ,

Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Sunday played down President-elect Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric on illegal immigrants, telling CNN lawmakers are not prepared to form a deportation force to round-up and deport undocumented immigrants.

"We are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump's not planning on that," Ryan insisted.

"I think we should put people's minds at ease: That is not what our focus is. That is not what we're focused on. We're focused on securing the border. We think that's first and foremost, before we get into any other immigration issue, we've got to know who's coming and going into the country -- we've got to secure the border," he added.

In an interview which aired on Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes”, Trump indicated that he plans to immediately deport approximately two to three million undocumented criminal immigrants.

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” he said, adding, “But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”

Trump also said in the interview that he still plans to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

And asked if he'd accept a fence instead of a wall, Trump said: "For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I'm very good at this, it's called construction."

He did not, however, repeat his campaign promise to deport all undocumented immigrants.

In his CNN interview, Ryan deflected questions about whether he'd support Trump's calls to slap hefty tariffs on imports from countries like Mexico.

Instead, Ryan said, he supports tax reforms to address the same challenges "without any adverse effects -- without any collateral damage to the economy."

The House speaker also said he is on board with Trump's call to keep some elements of President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

"Obamacare is failing. It must be replaced. We're going to do that. We're excited about it ... We can fix what is broken in health care without breaking what is working in health care," Ryan told CNN.

He added he agrees with Trump's comment to "60 Minutes" that Obamacare's laws against barring those with pre-existing conditions from receiving coverage and allowing those up to age 26 to remain on their parents' insurance can stay in place even during the push to repeal Obamacare.