Breaking News Emails
The Trump administration swatted down a report Friday as "false" suggesting that officials are weighing a proposal to use National Guard troops to crack down on undocumented immigrants in 11 states.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer pushed back at The Associated Press report that cites a purported Department of Homeland Security draft memo, calling it "100 percent not true." NBC News has not verified the document that was being circulated online.
"There is no effort to utilize the National Guard to round up immigrants," Spicer told reporters Friday morning.
The memo, dated Jan. 25, would have affected states along the border with Mexico — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — as well as seven other contiguous states: Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, according to the AP. Up to 100,000 troops would supposedly be called up.
While the White House has the ability to write up such a memo, governors in those states would still have the final decision on deploying their National Guard troops.
The 11-page draft memo was written by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the AP said.
The possibility of ramped up immigration sweeps comes as members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they met this week with a top Immigration and Customs Enforcement official over Trump's immigration-related executive orders.
"In effect, every undocumented person in America is now vulnerable to arrest and removal as a result of the president's orders," Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., said in a statement.
But a DHS spokeswoman told NBC News on Friday that the administration is no longer considering any National Guard-related round up, and that the department will instead issue guidance later Friday on how the various Trump executive orders on immigration will be implemented.
The orders, signed Jan. 25, instructed the DHS secretary to "prioritize for removal" undocumented immigrants who were convicted of or charged with crimes, misrepresented themselves before government agencies, abused any public benefits programs or were already deemed deportable.
The National Guard draft memo appears to have been written before the president's executive orders on border enforcement were issued, and is different from what actually came out.
The memo says DHS should enter into agreements with state governors allowing their National Guard members "to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension, and detention" of suspected illegals. But the actual executive orders make no mention of the National Guard and instead call for expanding the use of existing law that allows "local law enforcement officials" to enforce federal immigration law.
Trump has vowed to deport millions of immigrants who reside in the United States illegally, promising to beef up border patrols and build a southern barrier wall and force Mexico to pay for it.
Various think tanks have estimated there are some 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, and instituting mass deportations and the after-effects on communities could cost billions of dollars.
Polls in recent months have shown that a majority of Americans would prefer that undocumented immigrants remain in the U.S. and get a chance to become citizens.
National Guard troops are widely deployed during disasters, but have been used to assist in enforcing immigration laws — typically by providing surveillance, intelligence and logistical support, and not in arrests and detention.
For instance, President George W. Bush used them for non-law enforcement reasons, while President Barack Obama instituted an aerial surveillance program that had 1,200 National Guard airmen surveying drug trafficking and illegal migration from Mexico.
In 2014, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry — now Trump's nominee for energy secretary — moved to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border. He said it was to help fight Mexican drug cartels and crime linked to the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S. at the time.