Friday, February 17, 2017
Will they be stationed on the wall?
What could go wrong?
The Trump administration considered a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Staffers in the Department of Homeland Security said the proposal had been discussed as recently as last Friday.
The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.
Four states that border on Mexico were included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Friday the document was "not a White House document."
"There is no effort to do what is potentially suggested," he said. Spicer called the AP report "100 percent not true, adding that there was "no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants."
A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval.
The AP had sought comment from the White House beginning Thursday and DHS earlier Friday and had not received a response from either.
Governors in the 11 states would have had a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, which bears the name of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.
While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.
The memo was addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would have served as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.
Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo 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." It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.
If implemented, the impact could have been significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.
Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Trump's executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation. That order also allows immigration agents to prioritize removing anyone who has "committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense."
Under current rules, even if the proposal had been implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Those with existing deportation orders could be sent back to their countries of origin without additional court proceedings. But deportation orders generally would be needed for most other unauthorized immigrants.
The troops would not be nationalized, remaining under state control.
Spokespeople for the governors of nine of the states either declined to comment or said it was premature to discuss whether they would participate.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his state had not had any contact about the proposal, but added, "I would have concerns about the utilization of National Guard resources for immigration enforcement. I believe it would be too much of a strain on our National Guard personnel."
A representative for Texas did not immediately respond to the AP.
The proposal would have extended the federal-local partnership program that President Barack Obama's administration began scaling back in 2012 to address complaints that it promoted racial profiling.
The 287(g) program, which Trump included in his immigration executive order, gives local police, sheriff's deputies and state troopers the authority to assist in the detection of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally as a regular part of their law enforcement duties on the streets and in jails.
The draft memo also mentions other items included in Trump's executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents, which needs financing from Congress, and his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The signed order contained no mention of the possible use of state National Guard troops.
According to the draft memo, the militarization effort was to be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on the way local law enforcement is used in the program.
Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.
Between the border deployment and Chicago, the military's going to be very busy dealing with domestic chores. Of course, Trump promises to yuuugely expand the military so maybe all you kids should start worrying about whether he's going to institute a draft. He's going to need cannon fodder.
Here's the draft order, under General Kelly's name.
digby 2/17/2017 11:00:00 AM