The Trump administration considered a proposal to mobilise as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorised immigrants, a memo has revealed.
The 11-page memo obtained by the Associated Press apparently calls for the unprecedented militarisation of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.
Staff in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly said the proposal had been discussed as recently as last Friday (February 10).
Four states that border Mexico were included in the reported proposal - California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The other seven are Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the memo was “not a White House document”.
He called the AP report “100% not true” and said there had been “no effort at all to utilise the National Guard to round up unauthorised immigrants”.
A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never taken to the secretary for approval.
Governors in the 11 states would have had a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, which reportedly bears the name of homeland security secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star marine general.
While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the US-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.
The memo was apparently addressed to the acting heads of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection.
It could have served as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that Donald Trump signed on January 25.