Republican governors said they have “serious concerns” over an Associated Press report on a leaked Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up and deport immigrants living in the US illegally.
The leaked draft memo, which appeared to have been written by DHS Secretary John Kelly, proposed mobilizing National Guard troops in 11 states as far north as Oregon. State governors could choose whether they wanted their National Guard troops to participate, according to the memo.
Republican governors were quick to react to the report on Friday morning.
“I would have concerns about the utilization of National Guard resources for immigration enforcement with the current deployment responsibilities our guardsmen have overseas,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told The Huffington Post on Friday morning.
“During my time at Homeland Security, we utilized National Guard partnerships for specific responsibilities along the border, so the concept is fine, but it’s a matter of resources,” said Hutchinson, who served under President George W. Bush as the undersecretary for border transportation and security under after 9/11. “In Arkansas, I believe it would be too much of a strain on our National Guard personnel.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told Business Insider that “while we cannot speculate as to what may be requested via official channels in the future, we have serious constitutional concerns about activating the National Guard to provide the mentioned services and the potential financial impacts of doing so.”
The Louisiana governor’s office told Business Insider that it hadn’t been contacted by the Trump Administration regarding the memo. The Oklahoma governor’s office told Business Insider that it would be “premature to discuss” the memo as the office hasn’t seen the document.
Mari St. Martin, the communications director for Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval told Business Insider that it hadn’t been contacted by the Department of Homeland Security regarding the draft memo.
“It’s premature to comment on potential actions regarding the Nevada National Guard and its citizen-soldiers based entirely on a draft memo and outside speculation,” St. Martin said. “The Governor said earlier this morning that he didn’t think it was an appropriate use of the Guard.”
A DHS spokesperson told Business Insider that the Associated Press report was “incorrect,” and that the Department was “not considering mobilizing the National Guard for immigration enforcement.”
Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump’s press secretary, called the Associated Press’ reporting “false” and “irresponsible” on Friday morning.
“It is irresponsible to be saying this,” Spicer said, according to a pool report. “There is no effort at all to round up — to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants. I wish you guys had asked before you tweeted.”
An AP reporter noted that the wire service had requested comment from the White House multiple times before publishing. Spicer, meanwhile, said that he didn’t know if the draft memo had been considered by the DHS, saying that he knew of “no effort to do what is potentially suggested.”
Reaz Jafri, an immigration expert and a partner at Withers Bergman told Business Insider on Friday morning that the DHS memo would be “subject to immediate legal challenges” because it would allow the National Guard to perform the function of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials — including the “apprehension and detention of individuals that have committed no crime and may otherwise have a legal basis, under our immigration laws, to be in the US.”
The Trump Administration has previously signed executive orders increasing the scope and powers of both ICE and CBP officials to detain unauthorized immigrants. Trump himself said that he would create a “deportation force” to round up unauthorized immigrants on the 2016 campaign trail.
Business Insider has reached out to the governor’s offices of the 11 states affected by this memo, and will update this story when we hear back.
Michelle Mark contributed to this report.