Memo outlines White House proposal to use 100,000 National Guard troops as ‘deportation force’

Officials quickly clarified that no plans are imminent.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly is author of a document obtained by the AP that outlines plans to use the National Guard as a deportation force. CREDIT: AP Photo/Denis Poroy
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly is author of a document obtained by the AP that outlines plans to use the National Guard as a deportation force. CREDIT: AP Photo/Denis Poroy

President Trump is considering mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to “round up unauthorized immigrants,” including those beyond the southern U.S. border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

According to the AP, the 11-page proposal, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, would allow an “unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied the veracity of the AP report on Friday, saying that the draft memo was “100 percent not true.”

The AP reports that 11 states are included in the proposal, including the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

State governors would have final say on whether National Guard troops in their state could participate. Unless they are “explicitly authorized,” National Guard troops are prohibited to perform the tasks of civilian law enforcement under the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA).

Since he took office, Trump has signed executive orders on immigration that call for an expansion of the type of criminal activities that could be punishable by deportation. The proposal outlined in the document comes on the heels of a series of enforcement operations across 11 states that saw the arrest of nearly 700 immigrants currently awaiting deportation proceedings. Some of those immigrants have turned out to be mothers with U.S.-born children, people granted deportation protection, Sunday School teachers, domestic violence victims, and men walking out of church-run homeless shelters.

The Department of Homeland Security has also denied the AP report about the draft memo, but an official pointed out that it was a “very early, pre-decisional draft” that was “never seriously considered” by the agency.

“There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, according to the White House press pool report. An AP reporter then pointed out that they had asked for comments multiple times before publication.

“It is not a White House document,” Spicer responded.

Senior Assistant White House Press Secretary Michael C. Short tweeted that the AP story is “not true.”

Spicer’s “not a White House document” line about the draft memo on National Guard troops was previously used when he denied a draft order on torture in late January. Like the deportation proposal, that memo elicited quick and vocal backlash.