(ANTIMEDIA) “Unprecedented” deportations of immigrants through the deployment of up to 100,000 National Guard troops? The Trump administration considered it, according to the Associated Press, citing a “draft memo.” But how legit is the story, and who benefits from it?
Unnamed staffers from the Department of Homeland Security reportedly provided the AP with the 11-page document, an alleged executive order-to-be. Two hours after breaking the story Friday morning, the news organization released the source material.
It outlines the possible use of National Guard troops in 11 states, from as far west as Portland, Oregon, to New Orleans, Louisiana, in the east. Southern border states Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas are listed, as are some states bordering them: Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Utah.
At no point is there any explicit mention of what the Guard troops would do thanks to the fact that this draft did not propose federalizing them. Each state governor orders a deployment at their discretion and under their command. What the would-be order seeks to do is expand the 287(g) program, which allows state and local agencies to assist federal immigration enforcement in detecting and apprehending unauthorized immigrants. The program was initiated under President George W. Bush and scaled back by President Barack Obama.
The proposal was purportedly a part of official discussions as late as Friday, anonymous DHS staffers told the AP. But the AP’s attempts late Thursday and early Friday to get official comments from DHS and the White House went unanswered.
Instead, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer came out denying any such program was being considered once the story was published. He undercut the authenticity of the report, saying the draft was ‘‘not a White House document” and that the AP’s story was “100 percent not true.”
And just like that, the Trump administration is poised to accuse the media of more bias and falsehoods. Sound familiar? Last month, the AP and New York Times reported on another draft order potentially reopening CIA black sites and re-instituting torture. The story flopped, and since then, President Donald Trump’s war of words with the media has only grown.
Even in the AP’s story, the further one reads, the less apocalyptic the details become. At the time of publishing, it took 15 paragraphs before AP writer Garance Burke reported, “Under current rules, even if the proposal had been implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations.”
Elsewhere in the reporting, an unidentified DHS official says the draft was a very early one, not seriously considered, and never even proposed to the DHS secretary.
Why run the story with such an imminent sounding headline? Perhaps because the real purpose behind the draft would be less enticing to a readership conditioned for stories about a haphazard presidency.
The draft order references another executive order already signed, although it provides the wrong date. On January 25, Trump signed an order calling for an increase of 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, never implying a need to deploy the National Guard.
What purpose the draft order may serve is to simply inform Trump and his cabinet as to how a preferred policy choice compares to whatever else is conceivable. Would a president want all options thoroughly vetted? It’s possible.
Is this draft order an example of “unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement” as the AP reports? Consider comparing it to what occurred under Obama in May 2010, when he deployed some 1,200 National Guard troops to the southern border and requested $500 million from Congress to increase enforcement.
The Trump administration will undoubtedly continue to showcase its moral outrage at such media reports, and naturally so, as this is partially how he won the election.