Republican governors: ‘Serious constitutional concerns’ about deploying the National Guard for immigration enforcement

Ice immigration raid
Foreign nationals are arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles in February. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement via Associated Press

Republican governors said they have “serious concerns” over an Associated Press report that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was seeking to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up and deport immigrants living in the US illegally.

The 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 shared their concerns over the contents of the draft memo 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 utilised National Guard partnerships for specific responsibilities along the border, so the concept is fine, but it’s a matter of resources. In Arkansas, I believe it would be too much of a strain on our National Guard personnel.”

Hutchinson served under President George W. Bush as the undersecretary for border transportation and security under after 9/11.

“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,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told The Huffington Post.

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.

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 utilise 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 there is “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 unauthorised immigrants. Trump himself said that he would create a “deportation force” to round up unauthorised 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.

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