DHS weighed National Guard for immigration roundups

A May Day Parade. San Jose, California, May 1, 2006 | Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user z2amiller, (CC-BY 2.0), St. George News

The White House distanced itself Friday from a Department of Homeland Security draft proposal to use the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants, but lawmakers said the document offers insight into the Trump administration’s internal efforts to enact its promised crackdown on illegal immigration.

Administration officials said the proposal, which called for mobilizing up to 100,000 troops in 11 states, was rejected, and would not be part of plans to carry out President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration policy.

If implemented, the National Guard idea, contained in an 11-page memo obtained by The Associated Press, could have led to enforcement action against millions of immigrants living nowhere near the Mexican border. Four states that border on Mexico were included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompassed seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Despite the AP’s public release of the document, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said 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 Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for approval.

However, DHS staffers said Thursday that they had been told by colleagues in two DHS departments that the proposal was still being considered as recently as Feb. 10. DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen declined to say who wrote the memo, how long it had been under consideration or when it had been rejected.

The pushback from administration officials did little to quell outrage over the draft plan. Three Republican governors spoke out against the proposal and numerous Democratic lawmakers denounced it as an overly aggressive approach to immigration enforcement.

“Regardless of the White House’s response, this document is an absolutely accurate description of the disturbing mindset that pervades the Trump administration when it comes to our nation’s immigrants,” said U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would have “concerns about the utilization of National Guard resources for immigration enforcement,” believing such a program “would be too much of a strain on our National Guard personnel.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has serious concerns about the constitutional implications and financial impact of activating the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants.

“Neither the governor’s office nor the Utah National Guard has received any official communication on this matter,” Herbert’s office said in a statement, according to the Deseret News. “While we cannot speculate as to what may be requested via official channels in the future, we have serious constitutional concerns about activating the National Guard to provide the mentioned services and the potential financial impacts of doing so.”

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval questioned the legality of the plan described in the draft memo and said it would be an inappropriate use of guard resources.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said, “This administration’s complete disregard for the impact its internal chaos and inability to manage its own message and policy is having on real people’s lives is offensive.”

The AP had sought comment from the White House beginning Thursday and DHS earlier Friday and had not received a response from either. After the AP released the story, Spicer said the memo was “not a White House document” and said there was “no effort to do what is potentially suggested.”

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 Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

At a maximum, approximately 100,000 Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel would be available for stateside missions in the 11 states, according to statistics and information provided by the National Guard Bureau.

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.

Written by: GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press. AP writers Allison Noon in Carson City, Nevada, Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report. St. George News added Herbert’s statement as reported by Deseret News.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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9 Comments

  • Utahguns February 18, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Whatever it takes…..

  • comments February 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    We’ve been invaded for far too long. It’s time for the illegal invaders to go home.

    • .... February 19, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Your ancestors are nothing but illegal invaders. maybe you could comment on that Bob

      • Real Life February 19, 2017 at 9:44 am

        What kind of illegal activities are you up to when you are posting dumb comments at 3 in the morning?

  • comments February 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    and i feel sorry for a lot of these illegals, but there’s got to be a better way. Large swaths of the country have essentially turned into extensions of mexico. We have whole towns that have their primary language as spanish.

  • comments February 18, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    You can even go as far as to say that Mexico will conquer the US just with their enormous birth rates. The same thing applies to europe–the muslims will conquer europe with their enormous birth rates–essentially conquering the countries from within. Strange times.

    • comments February 18, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      and if you take a look at the proportion of school children that are the offspring of illegals it’s very likely we’ve already been conquered. Funny to think about, but basically true.

  • Kyle L. February 18, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Why is it suck a shock when the elected administration wants to enforce the law? Trump said what he wanted to do, we elected him, and now he is following through with it. Why is this so shocking?

  • utahdiablo February 19, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Oh, it’s coming folks, the National Guard does just that, protects our nation….it’s time to go home illegals, and the welfare cut off and the end of sanctuary cities will get the ball rolling

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