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White House Denies Plan to Mobilize National Guard on Immigrants, Which Is Not Comforting for SO MANY Reasons

But here's why it's important to pay attention anyway.


Earlier this morning, the Associated Press broke the story above. That the Trump administration “considers mobilizing” National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants. The White House has denied this. The AP has since followed up with receipts. This is going to be a long day …

The 11-page document (which you can read in full above), dated January 25th and written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, is a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up immigrants that are here in the U.S. illegally.

This is an unprecedented move, as the proposal would involve mobilizing in states nowhere near the Mexico border. According to The Los Angeles Times, “Four states that border Mexico are included in the proposal—California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas—but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four—Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.” The National Guard has been used in immigration operations before, but never to this extent, and never this far north.

The governors of those states, however, would decide whether or not to have their National Guard troops participate in the endeavor, according to the memo.

One of the more troubling points in the proposal is that it would allow the National Guard troops “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States.”

This would authorize them to conduct searches and identify and arrest any immigrants who crossed the border illegally. Nothing can go wrong there. I’m sure all of these troops will be extremely level-headed when going door to door searching for undocumented immigrants, drunk on their newly-acquired power. As level-headed as our local law enforcement at least. Right?


Meanwhile, the White House has denied this even being a thing. According to Time, our “favorite” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in his morning press conference, “That is 100% not true. It is false. It is irresponsible to be saying this. There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants.”

This was, of course, before the AP released the actual, very real and not-false memo for all to see.

Spicer went on to say, “I don’t know what could potentially be out there, but I know that there is no effort to do what is potentially suggested.” So … the Press Secretary, who’s supposed to know everything that’s out there, “doesn’t know” this is out there, but then knows for a fact it’s not true—or at the very least doesn’t consider a memo written by the Homeland Security Secretary to supplement the President’s Executive Order on immigration as indicative of at least a proposed effort?

Well, it’s not an effort-effort. You said effort, and there’s no effort. A proposed effort is not an effort. Effort is your word, so now I have to use your word back to you … The sketches just kinda write themselves. Oh, and letting information get out about something you’re not going to follow through on, failing to respond to AP requests for comment so they can’t judge how to report it, and then blaming the news media when the report goes out without the official denial (exactly what happened here) is a disinformation campaign aimed at undermining trust in the media, plain and simple.

There’s only small comfort in knowing that 1) “Under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Those with existing deportation orders could be sent back to their countries of origin without additional court proceedings. But deportation orders generally would be needed for most other immigrants in the U.S. illegally,” and 2) governors still have the right to say no to all of this by not allowing their National Guard troops to participate.

The major problem with this, and “reform” like this, is that it treats undocumented immigrants like non-persons. Laws and orders like this treat immigration reform like a numbers problem rather than as a complex and nuanced human problem. What’s more, Paragraph A of the memo says that the President “has determined that the lawful detention of arriving aliens pending a determination of their inadmissibility and eligibility for immigration relief has a significant deterrent effect on illegal immigration.”


image via a katz/Shutterstock

When, in all his years of dealing in real estate, did Trump pick up this sudden expertise? How exactly did he determine this? What information is he going by? Or is he simply pulling things out of his “really good brain?” What’s interesting is that, back in 2014, Sociologist Emily Ryo did a study for the L.A. Times focusing on the human reasons why Mexicans choose to come here illegally and what their thought process is like—not to suggest that they should just be allowed in willy-nilly, but to recognize that they would gladly choose to do things legally if the path were clearer, and if there weren’t so much inherent hypocrisy in the laws as written, not to mention throughout the entire history of labor between the U.S. and Mexico.

To learn more about that history, there’s a great run-down in The Huffington Post, also from 2014, of all the historical events and decisions that explain why the U.S. government deserves much of the blame for the current situation regarding immigration.

Throughout this government document, we see continued use of the word “aliens” to describe human beings, as opposed to, say, “undocumented immigrants” (but not “illegals” or “illegal immigrants,” because people can’t themselves be illegal, only their actions can). Language is important, and while yes, “alien” is a correct legal term, that in itself is a problem, and it’s one not limited to this specific document or administration. When we use the word “alien” commonly, we’re generally talking about Little Green Men (or greys, depending on your sci-fi), and so the word has connotations that make something labeled that way so foreign as to be unfathomable.

These undocumented immigrants are not unfathomable, though framing them that way might make the passage of certain (racist, xenophobic) laws easier. They are people who come to the United States for very understandable reasons and whose view of their actions is colored by the hypocritical, co-dependent relationship between their home country and ours.

If we are ever going to have true immigration reform in this country, we need to stop equating undocumented immigrants with criminals and “aliens,” and start thinking about them as human beings who are (and believe me, the U.S. government and its citizens want them to be, whether they admit it or not), part of our workforce.

Something else to keep in the back of your mind, particularly in light of the cries of “fake news” and leaks coming out of The White House: A common tactic used by fascist regimes is to purposely leak something so that it deflects away from something else that’s going on. So, while this is understandably one of the biggest stories out there today, keep your eyes on the smaller headlines, and pay attention to government goings-on and the news tomorrow. I would not be surprised if we hear about something even worse in the days ahead, though I deeply hope I’m wrong.

(featured image via Ken Wolter/Shutterstock)

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