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ImmigrationDHS considering using National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants

Published 17 February 2017

A document obtained by the Associated Press show that the Trump administration is considering the option of mobilizing as many as 100,000 national guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living in states far from the U.S.-Mexico border. The AP reports that the 11-page memo, written by assistants to DHH secretary John Kelly, calls for the unprecedented use of national guard troops for immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana. The document notes that most of the round up would take place in four states which border on Mexico – California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas – but that round ups would also occur in seven states which are contiguous to those four: Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

A document obtained by the Associated Press show that the Trump administration is considering the option of mobilizing as many as 100,000 national guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living in states far from the U.S.-Mexico border.

The AP reports that the 11-page memo, written by assistants to DHH secretary John Kelly, calls for the unprecedented use of national guard troops for immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana. The document notes that most of the round up would take place in four states which border on Mexico – California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas – but that round ups would also occur in seven states which are contiguous to those four: Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

The document says that the governors in the eleven states could choose whether or not to have their states’ guard troops participate in the round ups.

The New York Daily News reports that White House press secretary Sean Spicer firmly denied the existence of the memo, telling reporters: “That is 100% not true. It is false. It is irresponsible to be saying this.”

The Daily News notes that Spicer, using the present tense, added: “There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants.”

He would not, however, categorically state that this was never a subject of discussion at some level in the Trump administration. “I don’t know what could potentially be out there, but I know that there is no effort to do what is potentially suggested,” he said.

Spicer added: “It is not a White House document.”

The AP has clearly stated that the document was written by Kelly and so would originate from the Department of Homeland Security, not the White House.

National guard troops have been used to assist in immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, but these troops have never been used as broadly or as far north.

Kelly’s memo, addressed to the then-acting directors of ICE) and CBP, was meant as a guidance to the two agencies on how to implement the executive order President Trump signed on 25 January.

Executive orders are typically followed by memos from the relevant agencies and departments, highlighting the logistical aspects of carrying out the order.

Kelly’s memo, which also carries the date of 25 January, says that 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 goes on to describe how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that national guard troops would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.

The Daily News says that the draft document has circulated among DHS staff over the last two weeks. As recently as Friday, staffers in several different offices reported discussions were under way.

If implemented, the impact could be significant, but under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Unauthorized immigrants who have already been ordered to leave the country could be sent back to their countries of origin, but deportation orders would generally be needed for most other unauthorized immigrants.

AP notes that Kelly’s proposal would extend the federal-local partnership program launched in 2012 by the Obama’s administration. The 287(g) program 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.

Bush initiated the federal 287(g) program to allow specially trained local law enforcement officials to participate in immigration enforcement on the streets and check whether people held in local jails were in the country illegally. ICE trained and certified 1,600 officers to carry out those checks from 2006 to 2015.

Kelly’s memo describes the program as a “highly successful force multiplier” that identified more than 402,000 “removable aliens.”

Guard troops typically respond to natural or manmade disasters or for military protection of the population or critical infrastructure. In border states, guard troops have been used in immigration-related tasks such as construction of fences.

Detentions at the U.S. southern border are down significantly from levels seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The number of arrests last year was the fifth-lowest since 1972. Under Obama, deportations of unauthorized immigrants also increased.