Donald Trump’s administration is considering a proposal to mobilise as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorised immigrants, according to a draft memo.
Millions of those who would be affected in 11 states live nowhere near the Mexico border, according to the document obtained by the Associated Press.
The 11-page memo calls for the unprecedented militarisation of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.
President Donald Trump (Susan Walsh/AP)
Thank you for all of the nice statements on the Press Conference yesterday. Rush Limbaugh said one of greatest ever. Fake media not happy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
If the proposal is implemented, governors in the affected states would have final approval on whether troops under their control participate.
Only four states that border Mexico are included in the proposal - California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The other seven are Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the US-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.
The memo – written by homeland security secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star marine general – is addressed to the acting heads of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection.
It would serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed on January 25.
Also dated January 25, the draft memo says troops would be authorised “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 programme, and says personnel would be authorised to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorised immigrants.
The draft document has circulated among homeland security staff over the last two weeks, and employees in several offices said discussions were under way.