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WASHINGTON The White House distanced itself Friday from a Department of Homeland Security draft proposal to use the National Guard in Utah and 10 other states 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.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert voiced concern about the memo Friday, saying it has “serious constitutional concerns” about using the Guard for such purposes. 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.
“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. “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.”
Lt. Col. Steve Fairbourn, public affairs officer with the Utah National Guard, told the Deseret News that the military unit was aware of news coverage Friday but had received no official word about the draft memo. As such, Fairbourn said it would be inappropriate for the Utah National Guard to comment on the issue. Utah Rep. Angelo Romero, D-Salt Lake City and House minority assistant whip who represents a diverse area, called the memo “very troubling” and said she worries about the mental health of her constituents because of Trump’s approach to immigration.
“People are definitely afraid,” she said. “I think it’s problematic, and I’m hoping our governor and other elected officials in the state of Utah will say, ‘Not our National Guard.'”
“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.”
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 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.
Contributing: McKenzie Romero, Ladd Egan
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Photo: Ross D. Franklin / AP File Photo
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A National Guard unit patrols at the Arizona-Mexico border in Sasabe, Ariz. in 2007. A National Guard unit patrols at the Arizona-Mexico border in Sasabe, Ariz. in 2007.
Photo: Ross D. Franklin / AP File Photo
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Members of the National Guard patrol along the Rio Grande at the Texas-Mexico border in 2015. The Trump administration is considering 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.
U.S. Army National Guardsmen scan the U.S.-Mexico border on June 22, 2011 in Nogales, Arizona. U.S. Army National Guardsmen scan the U.S.-Mexico border on June 22, 2011 in Nogales, Arizona.
Photo: John Moore / Getty Images File Photo
State lawmakers critical of National Guard memo
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WASHINGTON Connecticut lawmakers expressed dismay Friday over a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press that proposed using up to 100,000 National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., said if the plan was enacted, it would be a disgraceful abuse of taxpayer dollars. Esty said she and her staff regularly hear stories from immigrant parents who are afraid of being deported. Esty said these immigrants deserve better than the cruel treatment proposed in this memo.
The 11-page memo indicated the National Guard would be used in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It would also be deployed in states further from the border such as Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Sending the National Guard to these states would have a big impact on the undocumented population. About one-half of the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the United States live in these 11 states, according to the Pew Research Center. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the proposed actions mentioned in the memo completely unwarranted, deeply disturbing, and antithetical to our entire system of law enforcement.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer characterized the memo as 100 percent not true. He also said there was no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants. The AP reported that two staffers in the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the memo was being discussed Feb. 10, but it was a very early draft that was never sent to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Blumenthal said the Trump 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 sought comment from the White House beginning Thursday and DHS earlier Friday and had not received a response from either before it published its story Friday morning. Governors in the 11 targeted states would have had a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the draft memo, which bears the name of 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 as proposed in the memo.
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.
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 Associated Press contributed to this story.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Feb. 17, 2017, described a report that the Trump administration was considering the mobilization of up to 100,000 National Guard troops to roundup undocumented immigrants as false.
The Trump administration on Friday denied an Associated Press report that said it considered the mobilization of up to 100,000 National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants in 11 states.
The Associated Press obtained an 11-page draft memo from the Department of Homeland Security that proposed the use of National Guard troops in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas the four states that border Mexico and Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah. The draft memo with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly s name on it was dated Jan. 25, which is the same day President Trump signed an executive order that spurs construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country.
State National Guard components are employees of their respective states and are under the command of their governors when they are not in federal service, reads the draft memo the Associated Press obtained. Based on their training and experience, these men and women are particularly well-suited to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law and augment border security operation by department components. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday described the Associated Press report as 100 percent not true and false.
Undocumented trans immigrant arrested at courthouse
ABC News last summer reported the Obama administration deported 2.5 million undocumented immigrants between 2009-2015. One statistic indicates 91 percent of those who were deported from the U.S. in 2015 have been convicted of a crime. Immigrant rights advocates and their supporters have sharply criticized Trump over his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. LGBT rights activists in Mexico and Central America with whom the Washington Blade has spoken in recent weeks said the executive order has sparked fear throughout the region.
The fear is very real, Freddy Funez, an LGBT rights activist in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, told the Blade on Feb. 10 during an interview at his office. Trump two weeks earlier signed a second executive order that indefinitely bans Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. It also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and the issuance of visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya for 90 days.
A three-judge panel on 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a federal judge s ruling that blocked the travel ban. Trump is expected to sign a new executive order next week that would apply to those with ties to terrorism. The 9th Circuit on Thursday said it would not take any further action on the travel ban until the White House formally announces the directive.
Murals on a wall that marks the U.S.-Mexico border in Mexicali, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Victor Aguirre)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents last week arrested an undocumented transgender woman inside a courthouse in El Paso, Texas, after she received a protective order against her ex-boyfriend.
A video that KVIA, a local television station, obtained shows two ICE agents escorting the trans woman out of the El Paso County Courthouse. KVIA reported she has a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions for domestic violence and has been deported from the U.S. seven times. El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal told another local television station the trans woman s ex-boyfriend may have tipped off ICE because he new precisely where the victim would be at that time and date since he had received notice to be in that courtroom as well.
We hope that this is an isolated incident that will never happen again, Bernal told the television station. We call on ICE officials to do everything they can to make sure this never happens again in our community.
National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendall sharply criticized ICE over the trans woman s arrest.
We cannot condemn strongly enough ICE arresting a victim of domestic violence while she was in court seeking legal protection from her abuser, a right she was guaranteed under Texas law regardless of immigration status, said Kendall in a statement she released on Thursday. This arrest has a chilling effect on all victims of domestic violence.
It is unconscionable that ICE would arrest somebody at court, effectively handing abusers a way to further control and harm their victims, she added. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs and the Transgender Law Center also criticized the trans woman s arrest.
Our government s actions send the message to transgender people that we are disposable and do not deserve dignity or safety, said Transgender Law Center Director of Programs Isa Noyola in a press release. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, has yet to respond to the Blade s request for comment.
NBC Washington reported ICE agents on Feb. 8 detained several Latino men across the street from a church in Alexandria, Va., after they left its homeless shelter. Hundreds of other undocumented immigrants have been arrested in raids that have taken place across the country in recent weeks.
- ^ an Associated Press report (www.apnews.com)
- ^ an 11-page draft memo (www.documentcloud.org)
- ^ signed an executive order (www.washingtonblade.com)
- ^ the Associated Press obtained. (www.apnews.com)
- ^ Associated Press report (www.apnews.com)
- ^ released the draft memo (www.documentcloud.org)
- ^ reported (abcnews.go.com)
- ^ a second executive order (www.washingtonblade.com)
- ^ KVIA, a local television station, obtained (www.kvia.com)
- ^ reported (www.kvia.com)
- ^ told another local television station (cbs4local.com)
- ^ reported (www.nbcwashington.com)