“Another Potential Attack on the Undocumented – Using The National Guard to Spread Fear”
by Melanie N. Huettman, student writer
The day after National Day Without Immigrants – a movement meant to highlight the contributions that immigrants make to the U.S. economy – a recent draft memorandum from the Trump administration was picked up by the Associated Press which says that it is considering using 100,000 National Guard troops from eleven states to round up and deport undocumented immigrants.1 The eleven states consist of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.2 The undocumented immigrant populations in these states make up about half of the entire undocumented population, which is around 11 million people.3
Unfortunately, there is precedent for presidential use of National Guard troops in limited cases for immigration purposes. For example, during the mid-2000s, President George W. Bush used National Guard troops at the border to help augment the Border Patrol.4 However, they were limited to non-law enforcement duties.5 Additionally, National Guard troops have never been engaged in such a widespread enforcement mission, so this usage would be like nothing we have ever seen before.
There are also questions about whether this memo discusses a real plan being considered or not. According to the Associated Press, the memo was drafted the same day that Trump signed his executive order on border security, and has since been passed around the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).6 White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said that this memo is “I don’t know what could potentially be out there, but I know that there is no effort to do what is potentially suggested . . . It is not a White House document.”7 Additionally, eight of the eleven state governors have commented saying that they have heard nothing about the draft memo; three governors have yet to comment on it.8 However, several DHS staffers have said that the memo is being circulated and that discussions are being had in the department about the possibility of its implementation.9
Another glaring question to ask is this: where is Trump going to get the resources to carry this out if he chooses to go through with it? According to ICE’s FY16 Enforcement and Removal Operations Report, ICE deported 240,255 individuals in FY16; the most that ICE has deported since 2008 was in FY12, when they deported 409,849 individuals.10 Of the FY16 individuals, only 31,936 of them were considered Priority 2 individuals under the previous priority system, which included individuals who are undocumented.11 Some estimate that it would cost between $400 billion and $600 billion to deport all undocumented immigrants currently in the United States,12 which would mean it could cost between $200 billion and $300 billion to deport all of those this memo is targeting. According to a government estimate, they currently have the resources to deport around 400,000 individuals per year,13 so it is unknown where the Trump Administration thinks they will be able to find the extra resources to deport this massive amount of people. Additionally, this estimate includes all of the individuals who are deported because of criminal convictions and violation of visa requirements, who the government still has listed as a priority.
It would appear, however, that some immigrants might be doing Trump’s job for him. According to an NPR story, several undocumented immigrants have decided to face arrest in Canada rather than live in a constant state of fear and risk deportation in the United States.14 Recently, undocumented immigrants have been crossing the U.S./Canada border in Champlain,
N.Y., where Canadian police officers have been helping the immigrants across the snow and then arresting them.15 However, their policy is to first check to see if they pose a national security threat, and then release them to go through the refugee or asylee process if they do not.16 The Trump administration could take some advice from the Canadian government on how to treat its immigrant population. Rather than spread fear throughout immigrant communities – communities who help contribute to the U.S. economy and include individuals who take the jobs which U.S. workers do not want so that the economy can function – Trump should embrace the immigrant population. These immigrants do not come the U.S. to engage in crime and violence, as he regularly claims. They come to the U.S. to support themselves and their families and build a life. The fear mongering needs to stop.
1 Garance Burke, Trump Weighs Mobilizing Nat Guard for Immigration Roundups, ASSOCIATED PRESS (Feb. 17, 2017), https://apnews.com/5508111d59554a33be8001bdac4ef830?utm_campaign=SocialF...
7 Garance Burke, Trump Reportedly Looking to Mobilize National Guard, BOSTON GLOBE (Feb. 17, 2017), https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/02/17/trump-considers-mobil...
10 FISCAL YEAR 2016 ICE ENFORCEMENT AND REMOVAL OPERATIONS REPORT, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, 2 (2016).
11 Id. at 3.
12 Ian Salisbury, The Insane Numbers Behind Trump’s Deportation Plan, TIME (Nov. 14, 2016), http://time.com/money/4566401/trumps-deportation-immigration-plan-number...
14 Kathleen Masterson, Migrants Choose Arrest in Canada Over Staying in the U.S., NPR (Feb. 17, 2017), http://www.npr.org/2017/02/17/515662976/migrants-choose-arrest-in-canada...