Worry for unauthorised Irish as Trump 'could authorise Nat Guard to round up immigrants'
Donald Trump's administration is considering a proposal to mobilise as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorised immigrants, according to a draft memo.
Millions of those who would be affected in 11 states live nowhere near the Mexico border, according to the document obtained by the Associated Press.
The 11-page memo calls for the unprecedented militarisation of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.
If the proposal is implemented, governors in the affected states would have final approval on whether troops under their control participate.
Only four states that border Mexico are included in the proposal - California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The other seven are Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the report was "100% not true" and "irresponsible", adding: ''There is no effort at all to utilise the National Guard to round up unauthorised immigrants."
While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the US-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.
The memo - written by homeland security secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star marine general - is addressed to the acting heads of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection.
It would serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed on January 25.
Also dated January 25, the draft memo says troops would be authorised "to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States".
It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership programme, and says personnel would be authorised to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorised immigrants.
The draft document has circulated among homeland security staff over the last two weeks, and employees in several offices said discussions were under way.
Nearly half of the 11.1 million people residing in the US without authorisation live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Centre estimates based on 2014 census data.
Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Mr Trump's executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation.
That order also allows immigration agents to prioritise removing anyone who has "committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offence".
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 unauthorised immigrants.
Spokesmen for the governors of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico said they were unaware of the proposal, and either declined to comment or said it was premature to discuss whether they would participate.
The proposal would extend the federal-local partnership programme Barack Obama's administration began scaling back in 2012 to address complaints that it promoted racial profiling.
The draft memo also mentions other items included in Mr Trump's executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents, which needs financing from Congress, and his campaign promise to build a wall between the US and Mexico.
The signed order contained no mention of National Guard troops.
According to the draft memo, the militarisation effort would be proactive, specifically empowering troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on the way local law enforcement is used in the programme.
Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.
In addition to responding to natural or man-made disasters or for military protection of the population or critical infrastructure, state Guard forces have been used to assist with immigration-related tasks on the US-Mexico border, including the construction of fences.
Mr Trump's immigration strategy is emerging as detentions at the nation's southern border are down significantly from levels seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Last year, the arrest tally was the fifth-lowest since 1972.
Deportations of people living in the US illegally also increased under the Obama administration, although Republicans criticised him for setting prosecution guidelines that spared some groups from the threat of deportation, including those brought to the US illegally as children.
Last week, ICE officers arrested more than 680 people around the country in what Mr Kelly said were routine, targeted operations. Advocates called the actions stepped-up enforcement under Mr Trump.