The fact that this idea was even floated is disturbing:
President Donald Trump’s administration is considering mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, according to a draft copy of an order obtained by The Associated Press on Friday.
Though the AP reported that the memo was written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the White House quickly denied that the report was true.
“100% false. There is no effort to use the National Guard to round up,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in an email to The Huffington Post.
The AP reports that an 11-page draft memo shows the Trump administration is considering an unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans. The memo, which has reportedly been circulating among DHS staff for two weeks, says participating troops would be authorized “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States,” according to the AP.
Eleven states would be targeted for raids, according to the memo. They include Mexican border states like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and non-Mexican-border states like Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Governors in those states would have final approval on whether troops under their control participate, according to the AP.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump talked at various times about implementing a “deportation force” to conduct raids on undocumented immigrants. In August, during a high-profile speech in Arizona, he pledged to “triple the number of [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] deportation officers” and “create a new special deportation task force focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants in America who have evaded justice.”
The National Guard is not part of ICE, but the memo obtained by the AP is drawn from the same vein as that August pledge.
Trump’s remarks during the campaign were repeatedly disavowed by members of Congress, including top Republicans. At a recent town hall, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said definitively that “there won’t be a deportation force.”
But it’s not clear what, if any, purview the House would have over the mobilization of the National Guard, meaning that Ryan could be powerless to stop this from happening ― if he wanted to at all.
A recent uptick in arrests and deportation of undocumented immigrants stoked fears nationwide about potential use of a “deportation force.” In a call with reporters a week ago, an ICE official said agencies had targeted several cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, in an “enforcement surge.”
Trump has floated potential executive actions before, only to back away. Most notably, his administration looked into a religious freedom executive order that would have potentially curtailed gay rights. But they ultimately decided against going down that route. The AP story, likewise, says merely that the administration is “considering” this order on immigration deportation.
“It is irresponsible to be saying this,” Spicer told reporters on Air Force One Friday, according to a White House pool report. Spicer also denied that any document the AP had obtained is a White House document.
A request for comment to the Department of Homeland Security was not immediately returned.