On February 17, 2017, the Associated Press (AP) tweeted that Donald Trump was intending to mobilize up to 100,000 national guard troops to round up unauthorized aliens in 11 states to be deported back to their countries of origin. To support their claim, they produced an “early, early version” of a document that was supposedly leaked to them. The document was said to have been written by staff for Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
If true, this policy would have been unprecedented. Even though the National Guard has been used for some immigration enforcement, it has never been used to the extent in which it was being proposed. Additionally, the National Guard had never been used as far north as the document was proposing. Regardless of its veracity, some are saying that the document represents insight into the mindset of the administration.
Almost immediately after it was published, White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, denied the report. Spicer tweeted that the administration was not considering this and that it was 100% false. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has denied that they had been considering the use of National Guard troops. The DHS also added that the document had never been given to Kelly for approval.
Before going public with the story, the AP had attempted the White House and DHS a number of times. Neither the White House nor the DHS responded to the inquiries and the AP decided to go ahead and publish the story.
Clearly something went sideways here and there has been a lot of speculation as to what that was. Questions linger about how did this document come to be in the possession of the AP and where did the 100,000 number come from (troop numbers was not mentioned in the document). There has been a number of ideas proposed to explain what happened.
- Someone had proposed the idea and started drafting the document. At some point, it was decided to abandon the idea and the document was rejected. Someone in the DHS had to have leaked it to the AP.
- It is possible that this a bait-and-switch tactic where Trump would be said to be considering something extreme which gets everyone to “freak out.” After backing down, the administration would propose something else less extreme which would be what they were wanting in the first place. This tactic would have the added benefit of making the media look like fools which could be exploited later.
- Another possibility was that it was an attempt to combat leaks within the administration. It was intentionally leaked for the purpose of damaging the willingness of the press to report leaks. As with the bait-and-switch proposal, this tactic would have the added benefit of making the media look bad which would support the administration’s “fake news” claims.
Needless to say, the AP in this incident acted in a sloppy manner. They rushed to release the story before completely vetting the source and the document. This chaos was something that could have been avoided.
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- Trump team refutes report on proposal for National Guard immigrant roundup