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White House denies reports of mobilizing National Guard for immigration roundups

February 17, 2017 (Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/AP)
WASHINGTON — White House officials Friday denied reports that National Guard troops will be used to capture and detain illegal immigrants across America, saying a draft memo circulating among news organizations is not from top administration officials.

“That is 100 percent not true. It is false,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to an event in South Carolina, according to pool reports.

“It is irresponsible to be saying this. There is no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants.”

Earlier in the morning, the Associated Press reported it had obtained a draft policy document that included plans to mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants.

According to the wire service, the 11-page document calls for mobilization of troops for immigration enforcement not just along southwestern border states but also in places like as Oregon and Louisiana.

Spicer said he could not say for sure if the document was a low-level, unapproved discussion paper from 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."

Later in the morning, Department of Homeland Security officials said the document appeared to be an early policy paper that was never seriously considered by top decision-makers. 

President Trump has made repeated promises to crack down on illegal immigration into America, including building a wall along the southern U.S. border and issuing restrictive new rules on travel from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa that have been repeatedly challenged in court.

Guard troops are often mobilized for response state emergencies, but can be used in select law enforcement and security roles. Texas state officials have mobilized their state guard members for border security work in recent years, and more than 8,000 Guard members from across the country were mobilized for security support services during Trump’s inauguration.


   
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.
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