White House: Report of National Guard Immigration Enforcement Plan 'Not True'

Then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano points toward the border fence and Tijuana, Mexico, during a visit with California National Guard troops on a hill overlooking the border Oct. 18, 2010, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, Pool)

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One today that an Associated Press report indicating the administration is considering using National Guard to round up illegal immigrants is “100 percent not true.”

The AP reported today that an 11-page draft memo authored by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Jan. 25 weighs the possibility of using up to 100,000 Guard troops as immigration enforcement, not just along the border region but in Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana as well.

Governors in those states as well as California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas would have the option to allow their Guard troops to participate, according to AP, which said the memo was addressed to then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 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.”

The AP added that the document “has circulated among DHS staff over the last two weeks,” and “as recently as Friday, staffers in several different offices reported discussions were underway.”

En route to South Carolina, Spicer called the report “false” and “irresponsible.”

“There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants,” Spicer said, according to the White House pool report. “I wish you guys had asked before you tweeted.” An AP reporter noted they asked the White House for comment multiple times before publication.

Spicer would not say if this plan was ever a subject of discussion anywhere in 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 replied. “It is not a White House document.”

President Trump was asked specifically at his Thursday press conference about what he would do with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to be vetted and approved for legal work status in the United States. Some 800,000 “DREAMers,” so named after unsuccessful legislation that tried to establish a similar program before President Obama ordered its establishment, are now registered under DACA.

“We’re gonna show great heart, DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids,” Trump replied. “In many cases, not in all cases. And some of the cases, having DACA and they’re gang members and they’re drug dealers, too. But you have some absolutely, incredible kids, I would say mostly. They were brought here in such a way — it’s a very — it’s a very, very tough subject.”

“We’re gonna deal with DACA with heart. I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don’t forget and I have to convince them that what I’m saying is — is right. And I appreciate your understanding on that,” he added. “But the DACA situation is a very, very — it’s a very difficult thing for me because you know, I love these kids, I love kids, I have kids and grandkids. And I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do and you know, the law is rough.”