The White House has denied an Associated Press report Friday that President Donald Trump was considering mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops for immigration enforcement, but he wouldn’t be the first president to use the force this way.
The 11-page document obtained by AP outlines a plan to mobilize National Guard troops in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, as well as Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. The memo says that the governors of those states would have the option of participating in the operation, where National Guard troops would be authorized “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States.”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the press pool traveling with Trump to Florida for the weekend that “it is not a White House document” and that it “is 100 percent not true.” But he would not categorically deny that conversations discussing such a proposal could have taken place somewhere in the administration.
In 2010, former President Barack Obama said he would deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. They were sent to Arizona, Texas, California and New Mexico. While National Guard troops were not authorized to arrest people found to be crossing the border illegally, they helped staff observation posts, monitor surveillance footage and build fences.
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In 2006, former President George W. Bush called up 6,000 National Guard troops to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. They were commissioned to help install border barriers, provide training and assist with border surveillance. The deployment was designed to support Customs and Border Protection agents in “executing logistical and administrative support, operating detection systems, providing mobile communications, augmenting border-related intelligence analysis efforts, and building and installing border security infrastructure.” Operation Jump Start, as the project was called, hoped to relieve Border Patrol agents from administrative duties so they could instead focus on border security.
According to Customs and Border Protection, the operation resulted in the apprehension of 5,003 people, 110 vehicles, $11,052, 28,577 pounds of marijuana and 1,447 pounds of cocaine.
Trump campaigned on a platform of tough immigration enforcement and increased border security, including the construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. While initially indicating he wanted to deport all of the estimated 11 million people in the country without proper documentation, the president said he’d first focus on people with criminal records. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents have been conducting a series of raids across the country rounding up people they believe are in the country illegally. ICE last week took 683 people into custody, the government said, which is stoking fears among immigrant communities.
Obama removed more people from the U.S. than any other president, at some 2.5 million. Bush deported about 2 million people. Annual deportations jumped into the hundreds of thousands in 1997, while the total for the prior 105 years was only 2.1 million people.