MISSION, RGV – U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar has denounced proposals by the Trump administration to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border.
On Friday, The Associated Press reported that on a memo that said the Department of Homeland Security was exploring the possibility of using National Guard troops as a domestic deportation force. Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Friday that the document was “not a White House document.”
Reacting to the AP story, which was written by journalist Garance Burke, Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, said: “If accurate, this draft proposal by Secretary Kelly, as reported by the Associated Press, is unacceptable.”
Expanding on this thought, Cuellar said: “First, this is part of an alarming pattern from President Trump and his Cabinet, of disrespect for American values and institutions like posse comitatus.
“Second, undocumented immigrants are not a major threat to our nation. Law enforcement is perfectly capable of handling the issue, with proper resources. The number of undocumented people in the U.S. has fallen in the last decade, and they are no more likely to commit crimes here than people with legal status. The President’s hysteria about them seems to be rooted in bigotry, not logic.”
A third important point, Cuellar said, was that rounding up immigrants was not what National Guard troops signed up to do.
“This is not what our National Guard members signed up to do. When they took their oaths, they put their liberty in our hands. We cannot put them in such a position. I hope the governors of the 11 states named in the memo will choose not to order the men and women under their command to participate in an illegal and un-American domestic deportation force.”
In the past, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry deployed the National Guard to help with observation work on the banks of the Rio Grande.
Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chairman Rafael Anchia said having National Guard troops on the border would damage Texas’ economy, kill jobs, and harm the state’s relationship with Mexico.
“We are concerned that attempts by the White House to deploy troops to the U.S.–Mexico border will be costly, irresponsible, and harmful to Texas. Mexico is our state’s No. 1 trading partner and actions to militarize immigration enforcement will not only further erode the bilateral relationship, but will cost Texas jobs,” Anchia said.
“The federal government should learn from our state’s recent experience. Last session, the Texas Legislature took aggressive steps to get Texas National Guard troops off the border after we determined that deployment was not only ineffective, but also detrimental to our economy.”
Anchia pointed to a study conducted by The Perryman Group which showed that Texas National Guard deployment cost the Rio Grande Valley region alone up to $541 million per year in gross domestic product and 7,830 jobs. Statewide, the negative impact was estimated at $650 million annually in gross domestic product and 8,680 jobs, The Perryman Group reported.
In addition to lost economic opportunities, the deployment of 1000 Texas National Guard troops to the southern border in 2014 cost Texas taxpayers approximately $59 million, MALC argues, pointing out that there are now approximately less than 100 Texas National Guard troops remaining along the border with an additional $7.7 million appropriated during the 2016-17 biennium.
“Facts should matter. At a time when Mexican migrant crossings are at their lowest levels in nearly 50 years and we are experiencing a net-zero migration from Mexico, the federal government should take steps to increase cooperation with Mexico. Our shared border should be viewed as an opportunity and not a challenge,” Anchia said. “We call on Governor Abbott to defend Texas against ill-conceived plans that would damage our state’s economy, kill jobs, and harm our relationship with Mexico.”
Here is the Associated Press story:
AP Exclusive: DHS weighed National Guard for immigration roundups
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Trump administration considered a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Staffers in the Department of Homeland Security said the proposal had been discussed as recently as last Friday.
The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.
Four states that border on Mexico were 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.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Friday the document was “not a White House document.”
“There is no effort to do what is potentially suggested,” he said. Spicer called the AP report “100 percent not true, adding that there was “no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants.”
A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval.
The AP had sought comment from the White House beginning Thursday and DHS earlier Friday and had not received a response from either.
Governors in the 11 states would have had a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, which bears the name of U.S. 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 U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.
The memo was addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would have served as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.
Editor’s Note: Click here to read the full Associated Press story.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this storywas taken on Feb. 24, 2015. It shows members of the National Guard patrol along the Rio Grande at the Texas-Mexico border in Rio Grande City, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)