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Saturday 25 March 2017

Trump might use National Guard to round up immigrants

President Donald Trump speaks after touring a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner at the plane's debut in North Charleston, South Carolina.
President Donald Trump speaks after touring a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner at the plane's debut in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilise as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorised immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a leaked draft memo.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarisation of immigration enforcement.

Four states that border Mexico are included in the proposal - California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four - Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Governors in the 11 states would have a choice of whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

While National Guard personnel have been used to help with immigration-related missions on the US-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The memo is addressed to the then-acting heads of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection.

It would serve as guidance to implement the executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed on January 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated January 25, the draft memo says participating 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.

Arrest

It also states that personnel would be authorised to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorised immigrants.

The troops would not be nationalised, remaining under state control.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Mr Trump's executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation.

That order also allows immigration agents to prioritise removing anyone who has "committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offence".

Under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations.

The draft memo also mentions other items included in Mr Trump's executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents and his promise to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

The signed order contained no mention of the possible use of state National Guard troops.

Requests to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment and a status report on the proposal were not answered.

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