Donald Trump’s administration is considering mobilising as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorised immigrants, it has been reported.
The Associated Press obtained a draft memo that calls for the unprecedented militarisation of the US immigration enforcement. But if implemented, governors in 11 states included in the draft memo would have final say on how many troops are actually deployed.
The draft memo, written by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, includes four states that border Mexico – Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California – but extends to seven contiguous states – Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon.
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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied the report as “100 per cent false” on Twitter, but could not say that the subject was never a topic of discussion within the 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. “It is not a White House document.”
But it remains unclear whether the White House will carry out this order as reported, as the administration has become notorious for attempting to discredit news stories that cast a unfavourable light on the President, writing them off as “fake”.
“You get five different answers on controversial issues depending on who you ask at [the White House]. It’s hard to tell who’s in charge and in the know,” said Texas Rep Joaquin Castro, who criticised the draft memo as “mass deportation”.
Earlier, Mr Castro said that it was “hard not to conclude that President Trump has started his mass deportation plan” after attending a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
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Mr Trump launched his campaign with particular focus on immigrants from Mexico, criminalising them with broad brushstrokes. In his now infamous June 2015 campaign announcement, he referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug traffickers, solidified with his vow to build a wall along the already-militarised southern border.
The administration hit the ground running with executive orders to carry out many of his campaign promises, which included the early stages of the wall-building project and the travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries.
The latter was blocked by a federal court shortly after its signing.