WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Friday said there was no plan to utilise the National Guard to round up unauthorised immigrants, after a news report asserted that the proposal had been under consideration by the Trump administration.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters he couldn't categorically say the move had never been discussed anywhere in the administration. The Associated Press reported the proposal to mobilise up to 100,000 National Guard troops was part of a draft memo being circulated at the Department of Homeland Security.
Spicer sharply criticised the report. "There is no effort at all to ... utilise the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants," he said. "This is 100 percent not true."
David Lapan, a spokesman for DHS, said the department was "not considering mobilising the National Guard for immigration enforcement."
The AP said the draft memo, dated Jan. 25, had been circulating among DHS staff for about two weeks and was addressed to the then-acting heads of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
It reported the 11-page document called for an unprecedented militarisation of immigration enforcement on the states bordering Mexico - California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas - and also encompassed seven states contiguous to those four -- Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
The AP said the memo was meant to serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed on Jan. 25.
A DHS official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the memorandum obtained by the Associated Press was an "early, early version" of a document being prepared by staff for Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Discussion of the National Guard was dropped before the memo ever made it to Kelly's desk, the official said.
The memo being prepared for Kelly has not yet been finalised but is expected to be finished soon, the official said.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and David Alexander; Writing by Susan Heavey and David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann and W Simon)