In yet another blow to the media’s credibility, the Associated Press ran with a story on Friday morning that the Trump administration had circulated a draft memo that would delegate 100,000 National Guard members for rounding up illegal immigrants.
Here’s the AP report:
The Trump administration is considering 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. 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….Governors in the 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.
It’s worth noting that this was a draft memo, according to the AP.
The report was quickly and strenuously denied by multiple members of the administration:
But the Associated Press story openly states that “requests to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment and a status report on the proposal were not answered.”
So is the AP lying? Why didn’t the White House just disown the proposal immediately upon request for comment?
Nate Silver has a theory:
If the AP reported this story without actually seeking comment, that’s fake news, obviously. But if the White House is manipulating the news – if the memo is real, and if the AP sought comment and was denied – then that’s egregious stuff. There’s no excuse for going silent with the media simply in order to castigate their credibility for issuing factually true reports. No wonder nobody knows what to believe anymore.
As far as the content of the memo, Trump went back and forth on the notion of a deportation force during the campaign. He’s been unclear on how he plans to expand enforcement against illegal immigration – just yesterday, he said he would use “heart” to deal with so-called DREAMers. This latest story just throws more confusion on top of policy chaos.
UPDATE: The draft memo text is now out. You can read it here. It doesn't read like a federally mandated cramdown of 100,000 National Guard troops. To be fair to the AP, the AP said in its article that the National Guard would not be federalized for this purpose. But the memo itself doesn't mention deportations, doesn't suggest that the feds will "mobilize" National Guard troops as much as ask state governors if they want to participate, and doesn't mention the number 100,000.