Home / General / Proposal to Militarize Immigration Policy

Proposal to Militarize Immigration Policy


There’s a draft DHS memo floating around today, which proposed using up to 100,000 National Guard troops across eleven states to round up undocumented immigrants. It’s still unclear where this proposal originated, in response to what (though it seems part of the lead-up to the travel ban), and how far its discussion went (Spicer hasn’t denied that the report was discussed). But as Dara Lind makes clear over at Vox,

the fact that it was floated at all is still significant. President Trump arrived in office on the promise of a sweeping crackdown on immigration enforcement, and proceeded to sign executive orders that made substantial changes — but didn’t always provide details.

According to AP, who broke the story,

Staffers in the Department of Homeland Security said the proposal had been discussed as recently as Friday.


A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval.

As for the details (also from AP):

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.

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.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized “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 program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.

If implemented, the impact could have been significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of 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 prioritize removing anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”

According to the draft memo, the militarization effort was to be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on the way local law enforcement is used in the program.

Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.

Now, it bears repeating that there’s still a lot unclear about this memo’s direct relation to policy discussions and decisions. But in a context where policy details have been scant, directives have been rushed and poorly-thought out, and anti-migrant rhetoric is still pouring out from positions of power, that this was even floated should give us pause. Accomplishing the goals of Trump’s continuing campaign against migrants will require draconian methods (even if not in this specific form). Rejecting this particular proposal does not mean that equally troubling methods will not be forthcoming.

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  • DrDick

    It is also telling that so many in the press actually took this seriously. Given the prior actions and rhetoric of the administration, this is completely believable.

  • liberal

    Let’s see whether they start raiding businesses that are known to employ lots of illegal immigrants. LOL.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      And if they set up road blocks, and can start searching cars, why not search for DRUGS! BAD DRUGS! and put liberals and hippies and anybody else who annoys them in camps, too?

      This is not the libertarian wing of the GOP that has second thoughts about the prison industrial complex or the war on drugs.

      • I read that in a Thomas Pynchon novel or two or three.

    • DrDick

      You mean every restaurant and hotel in every major city?

      • kvs

        Certainly not on farms now that migrant workers are afraid to travel to them.

        On the other hand, that has led to some farmers raising wages to attract more labor.

        • DrDick

          Or all the Midwestern meat packing plants.

      • Meat packing plants.

  • rea

    If they seriously propose to deport 12 million people, they of course have to do something like this–indeed 100,000 troops probably won’t be enough.

    • americanpride

      After they “remove” the illegal immigrants, the inner cities will be their next target. Then Muslims.

      • Woodrowfan

        After they “remove” the illegal immigrants, the inner cities will be their next target. Then Muslims.

        that’s crazy talk…

        it’ll be Muslims, Then the inner cities…

        then GLBT??

        • wengler

          12 million immigrants, 4 million Muslims, 39 million blacks.

          One of these numbers is substantially larger than the other two.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          I guarantee you it’s Muslims, then Jews.

          LGBT or inner cities will be after that.

    • JR in WV

      Well, if you mobilize the NG in half the country, some of them can build camps, and guard the camps where you concentrate the undocumented people the other half will round up somehow, or legal folks who don’t speak very good English, we don’t know who is which yet, remember.

      And the lawyers and courts to determine and seperate those who are illegally present and who are legally present and had a good job until they were arrested without cause and sent to the concentration camps. Yes, that is what they will be. Yes, Trump is ignorant of the cognates surrounding the facts of concentrating undesirables into roughly thrown together “camps”.

      And how will this occupying army be greeted? Those who are wearing body armor, helmets with face shields, carrying an assault rifle, will not be welcome. No one dressed like that on a mission of suppression is welcome.

      When I started to post, I expected that I would be late to the party, and even the snark would already be present in full. Glad to see I was accurate in that forecast.

      • Lurker

        Simply as a matter of policy, wearing combat gear for a domestic police operation would be stupid. For most purposes, work fatigues and a weapon, any weapon, would be quite enough.

        The British learned the hard way that military patrols on a domestic mission (in Northern Ireland) generate the minimum resistance when they are acting as peacefully as possible.

        • Unfortunately these seem to be people who, when given an argument like that, draw conclusions in something of the same way that the head boy at an English public school would, were a similar suggestion regarding treatment of the fags (assuming this is still the current term) made to him.

          • bs

            Fags, in England, means cigarettes. I dunno, nor do I care to look up, the English slur.
            Edit: according to monty python circa 1970, poofter [hangs head in shame for remembering the Australian Philosophy Dept. sketch]

  • Solar System Wolf

    My understanding is that being in the country illegally is a civil offense, not a criminal one. Can anyone confirm?

    • You are correct. That’s why the preferred terms are “out of status” or “undocumented”.

      Here’s the part that no-one seems to be talking about: sure you can arrest the undocumented, but then what? They are entitled to due process, which means a hearing, and you have to put them somewhere while their hearings are pending. From what I can see the Immigration Courts, and the Immigration Detention Centers are operating at full capacity right now. How is the system going to handle this?

      • americanpride

        Camps. Camps to concentrate the detained. Military engineers can construct large camps in a matter of days.

        • Yes. After all, Trump will need a lot of cheap labor to build his wall, and i expect all sorts of atrocities to ensue.

          • DrDick

            He would undoubtedly follow the example of Qin Shi Huang

        • Lurking Canadian

          How do you say “Work makes you free” in Spanish?

          • rea

            El trabajo te libera

          • americanpride

            It would like a ‘right-to-work-your-way-out-of-the-country’ policy.

        • rhino

          Especially if they don’t need to bother with amenities like sanitary systems, or shelters. Just big fenced rectangles with minefields around them.

          Or did you think these guys would bother with more?

          • Hogan

            Maybe a rain barrel. In case it ever rains.

        • John not McCain

          Why go to all that bother? House them in Trump hotels and send the bill to taxpayers.

          • americanpride

            Send the bill to taxpayers with copies of the unsigned invoice sent to Mexico. “See? We tried!”

      • Little Chak

        Most Trump supporters firmly believe that non-citizens should not have due process rights.

        • liberalrob

          Or any rights.

        • bs

          Not only Trumpanzees. I encountered an intelligent person (I hesitate to use “liberal”) who argued that “No person” in the 5th Amendment really meant “no US citizen”, in the context of Guantanamo. I was flabbergasted. Yes, “except in cases arising in the land or naval forces” came up, and i then argued they get military due process, which is POW status, with military tribunals for any you have evidence against.

      • wengler

        Immigration detention centers are overwhelmingly private prisons.

        Sixty-two percent[4] of all ICE immigration detention beds in the United States are now operated by for-profit prison corporations, up from 49 percent in 2009[5]. Nine of the ten largest ICE detention centers are private[6]

        Great opportunity here for Trump Prison Enterprises, LLC.

      • LeeEsq

        You also can’t detained undocumented aliens while their cases are pending if their only offense is to be in the United States illegally. You have six months max and than you have to let them out. Its also a lot cheaper to have undocumented feed and house themselves than have the government do it.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        They are entitled to due process,

        Nobody is entitled to due process in Trump’s America.

  • Matt

    There are almost too many things wrong with this idea to know where to start criticizing it. While it’s possible to think of some bad but perhaps not 100% insane uses of the national guard to enforce immigration law near the actual border with Mexico (like, walk around looking for people walking across the border), outside of that, the idea is just nuts. Immigration law is very complex, and whether a particular person is or is not in status or eligible for some sort of relief or benefit is often pretty hard to know. It’s hard for professionals with lots of training, and really hard for people with a bit of training, like ICE officers. It would be impossible for people like randomly assigned national guard members, and there would be no reason at all to use them, except as a show. The show itself would be bad. So, the whole idea is just dumb, at the very best. Apparently, it’s being denied, and hopefully it is dead, but that it was considered shows that no one in charge has any idea what they are doing.

    • Chip Daniels

      But what we also know is that for this administration the rule of law means nothing, procedural norms are irrelevancies, and practical considerations an annoyance.
      I find it entirely plausible that 45 would give a command like this regardless of any consideration.

    • CP

      It would be impossible for people like randomly assigned national guard members, and there would be no reason at all to use them, except as a show.

      Of course, to them, this is a feature, not a bug. The blunter the instrument, the better, and deploy them with a “when in doubt, throw them out” guideline. It’ll end up with a ton of rights violated, but… sure, let’s pretend this isn’t exactly what they want.

      (As with the invasion of Iraq or the interrogation of suspected terrorists, there are ways to do things that are much more sensible and legal than what the Repubs did while still achieving results. But those are wimpy and unglamorous ways, when the whole point is to make a grand gesture of hardcore look-how-far-I’m-willing-to-go-to-get-the-job-done! theater, with a big side order of screw-them-they’re-all-unpersons-anyway).

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Of course, to them, this is a feature, not a bug. The blunter the instrument, the better, and deploy them with a “when in doubt, throw them out” guideline.

        Is Cheech Marin going to have to remake “Born in East L.A.”? Will we ever learn?

    • kvs

      You’re overthinking this. All of those things are Somebody Else’s Problem. The National Guard would just be given a list of people to round up.

    • Lurker

      Technically, I think that the National Guard actually has quite a few units that would actually be usable or semi-usable on a mission like this. At least formerly, a major part of the US military police and intelligence capability was locates in the National Guard, and those units have a lot of experience in building a population registry with biometric data, tracking people movements with roadblocks and random ID checks fed to the database and searching for fugitives. The US Army did that in Iraq, and this experience is transferable.

      So, the plan has actually elements that could work. Deployment of a hundred thousand guardsmen would be only for show. I think that if you deployed a couple of key battallions to do the coordination, you could actually get the ball running with a brigade of grunts doing the footwork. Then, based on experiences collected, you would widen the operation.

    • Mike G

      It’s butt-stupid security theater. This is like after 9/11 when they had National Guard soldiers standing around at airport security-screening stations doing nothing.

      • Lurker

        In theory, armed militsry personnel would be able to stop an active shooter. Considering that these are usually white males, I would say, as a white male, that I feel such measures are sexist, racist and humilating, demonstrating distrust at white males, although most of us never start randomly shooting people, and even fewer do it multiple times. :-)

      • Dagmar

        Holding automatic weapons.

  • Brett

    A draft memo doesn’t mean much, aside from letting us know the opinion of whoever signed off on it. All that said, I really wouldn’t put it past Trump to nationalize the National Guard to remove unauthorized immigrants if the local police are reluctant to help ICE.

    • liberalrob

      If he nationalized (“federalized”) the National Guard he would be prohibited from using them in a law-enforcement capacity by the Posse Comitatus Act.

      Apparently he could, however, use the Coast Guard…

      • We could just wait for them to go fishing, then snatch them up. In nets, I suppose.

        Not what Christ had in mind with his fishers of men, i don’t think.

  • (((max)))

    Accomplishing the goals of Trump’s continuing campaign against migrants will require draconian methods (even if not in this specific form). Rejecting this particular proposal does not mean that equally troubling methods will not be forthcoming.

    But this is essentially what he was proposing during the campaign.

    When this first came up during the campaign, Josh Marshall was talking terms of it being like Hitler and Trump would set up little prison camps all over the place. The problem with that is that IT HAD ALREADY BEEN DONE – those are what those detention centers Obama was running were and are. It also doesn’t work fast enough to remove the 11 million already here, but Obama didn’t *want* to remove the 11 million already here.

    To do what Trump said he was going to do (and it’s evident he wants to do what he said he was going to do) then he’s going to have to have the military set up a perimeter line running across the US from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico and have those military dudes march south, flushing out ‘immigrants’ as they go. Presumably he’d want to declare marshal law when the plan swings into motion.

    A line of American military moving slowly south going door-to-door looking for immigrants is going to terrify people further south, who will be inclined to run, especially when the reports of various firefights further North start flowing in. It’s the only way to flush out the requisite number of people. Of course, what they’re really going to be doing is flushing out the browns, immigrant and non-immigrant alike, and they’ll probably miss a bunch.

    They’re going to be aiming at a combination of Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal and a roided-up version of “Operation Wetback”. And it’ll work, sorta, enough for Trump to claim success and get those neo-Confederate juices flowing.

    This is not something they might do, something they’re entertaining doing, what I described is going to be the plan, however close the exact details might or might not be, and we have to be looking for the implementation and be prepared to oppose effectively. (Don’t be shocked when they roll it out – be shocked now and then get over it, because we need to oppose this effectively.)

    It’s going to take a lot of warm bodies out in the streets where this is going to be occurring (which means sunny California, people) to bog it down and halt it.

    [‘Of course, we could just start beating on the from this day forward about it and see if we can bluff them out.’]

    • humanoid.panda

      I think the scenario Max lays out here is less than 5% likely to happen, but this is the sort of thing I was thinking about in my “California secession” thread…

      • Just_Dropping_By

        I think the scenario Max lays out here is less than 5% likely to happen

        Next you’ll be pointing out that the logistics of something like this would take at minimum several weeks to organize (if not months) and would probably require additional congressional appropriations to finance.

    • (((Malaclypse)))

      Protip: the moment you talk about “marshall law” everybody knows you don’t know what you are talking about.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        I’m going to park my Citroen in your driveway and turn on the yellow headlights and declare Marcal law.

        • Jack M.

          I’m going to publish a book in seven parts at you and declare Marcel Law.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            As long as nobody’s walking into a wind that isn’t there, or trying to get out of an imaginary box to club you with a club they’re not really holding, well, okay then.

            • I assume everyone is trying to pretend the joke about the pet monkey hasn’t occurred to them.

          • sigaba

            I’ll force you to play a spy in an Italian James Bond knockoff and declare John Philip Law.

      • rhino

        To be fair, it’s what my machines try to autocorrect to.

      • liberalrob

        Is “marshall law” what happens when Josh Marshall is put in charge?

        “Marshal law” must be what happens when the U.S. Marshals Service runs everything. Paging Tommy Lee Jones.

        Heck, why not just use the Texas Rangers?

    • rea

      he’s going to have to have the military set up a perimeter line running across the US from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico and have those military dudes march south

      Let’s see–100,000 troops, 1900 miles from Los Angeles to New Orleans–that’s roughly 1 guardsman every 53 miles, right?

      • rea

        Sorry, 53 guardsmen per mile? Math was never my strong point (hey, I went to the same school as Campos). Still, a rather permeable perimeter.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Not if they’re continually shooting 5.56mm rounds. You gotta have a dream.

        • Warren Terra

          Let’s play with the numbers a bit:

          1) Assume three shifts to achieve 24/7 coverage. This is maybe too few shifts given weekends and the like, but hey: they’re grunts, and away from their families, we can do that to them.
          2) Officers, support people, sick leave etcetera. I’m just going to make up a number here, completely invented, say you’ve got to set aside a third of your force in these categories as non-patrollers.
          3) How big are your patrols? You can’t send anyone unaccompanied, that would be nuts. Say three people.
          4) How long are the deployments? Let’s say three months, meaning only a quarter of the people you intend to call up are deployed at any one time.

          So, that’s a correction factor of (1/3)(2/3)(1/3)(1/4) ~ 1/50. Sure, it’s made up. But amusingly it does take us back to an average of one guardsperson team per mile.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            You’re thinking in an organized fashion. Donald would send out there to stand in the sun and fall over dead.

        • sigaba

          I assume the model wouldn’t be some sort of border cordon but would resemble what happened during the Rodney King riots, when NG and Marines patrolled the city and rode along with the LAPD to provide “support.”

          • Warren Terra

            Oh, sure. If nothing else, bewildered guardsmen beating up brown people in the inner city is maximally cruel, stupid, and incendiary, so we have to assume it’s Trump’s preferred option.

            Still, it’s interesting that if you were to map out the National Guard deployment size necessary to put a tight cordon on our southern border, it really would be in the tens of thousands, and 100k wouldn’t be insane.

            • sigaba

              When I was in college, a grad student I was working with on a short film was a former Marine captain, he’d been discharged (long sad story) just before the riots and I met several Marines from his company when we were shooting his film. This was about 6 years after the riots.

              They loved telling this story about how they were assigned to ride out with an LAPD patrol and the unit was dispatched on a response to a house in South Central for some kind of disturbance. As the police got out of the car they said to the fully-armed Marines in the back: “You guys cover the front.” The Marines interpreted this as “lay down suppressing fire.”

              They laughed and laughed as they told the story. Ha ha.

              • BiloSagdiyev

                I have read this story, years ago. Wunnerful, eh? I hope it only happened once and we learned of the same incident.

          • j_doc

            The key difference vs the 1992 riots is that level of cooperation/enforcement by the LAPD would likely require that the state and city already be under military rule.

  • eselbin

    This shit is pernicious and poisonous. I suspect yet another trial balloon; their sadly comical walking it back merely pathetic. It will be interesting to see what Cheeto Jesus bellows about it tomorrow…or if he mentions the non-Muslim Target terrorist in Florida….

  • americanpride

    The NG is not trained, equipped, or cultural attuned to a mission such as this. It would be a disaster for the military’s credibility and for constitutional rights. The composition of the NG varies by state, but it consists in large part of combat arms (infantry, armor, artillery, engineers), and service and support (transportation, military police, etc). Do we really we want to see U.S. soldiers conducting raids, rounding up people, and setting up check points in American cities (well… I’m sure some people do if they’re rounding up the “right people”).

    The draft memo states that NG would be authorized to conduct investigations, apprehensions, and detentions. What happens when a U.S. citizen’s rights is violated – or a citizen is killed – by an errant NG soldier? Who will be held responsible? LEOs can be compromised by Giglio material in their background. Soldiers on the other hand? Where’s the legal accountability when something goes wrong?

    This must be the secret military government take over that the right wing militias have been fearing this whole time, right? RIGHT?!

    • Question: Does the President have the authority to call up the National Guard directly, or does this have to go through each state’s governor? Does a governor have the authority to override a presidential call-up?

      • BigHank53

        IIRC, The President can call them up and deploy them outside of the US–or use them on military bases to replace soldier that have been so deployed. Domestically, they’re under the command of state governor and are deployed in states of emergency. Gonna be hard to convince all those governors it’s a state of emergency. Well, Texas and Arizona are givens.

        • efgoldman

          Domestically, they’re under the command of state governor and are deployed in states of emergency

          Jerry Brown is already writing the memo to tell them to pound sand.

          Perhaps if there are any lawyers left in the maladministration, they can look up “Posse comitatus act”.

          • sigaba

            I hear Trump loves grabbing women by the posse, and he loves giving comitatus, his comitatus is the best.

            Seriously this is all this term means to him.

      • I should have googled this first. President has the authority to federalize the Guard to active duty via Title 10, but then the Guard is then considered active duty military and subject to the same restrictions for deployment on American soil. The state can call the Guard to “Guard Duty” under Title 32, but this is still derived from federal authority. So it looks like either way a governor would lose.

        • rea

          Yeah–I believe LBJ responded to governors calling out the Guard to deal with civil rights demonstrations by taking them into federal service

        • Jack M.

          But then if they’re called to active duty military, they’d be subject to posse comitatus and aren’t permitted to deploy on American soil. That sounds like a sure-fire way to start the military talking about ‘illegal orders’ and I don’t think Idiot Amin or his handlers want to risk a two-front war with the Intelligence Community *and* the Pentagon.

          • Yeah. This incident has spurred me to read up on the National Guard, so there’s a silver lining there, I guess :-)

            If the guard is called up under Title 32, posse comitatus doesn’t apply, but Title 32 requires concurrence from a state’s governor, which is probably why the memo is written to that effect.

          • kvs

            The crux of the argument would be whether it was determined that they were being deployed for domestic law enforcement or national security. The administration would argue it’s the latter. At the moment, the courts seem less lenient in allowing the executive to just declare things a matter of national security.

          • j_doc

            Eisenhower deployed the 101st Airborne to escort black students to school in the south. That wasn’t exactly law enforcement, but close enough that I’m sure some lawyers are examining the justification.

            I don’t recall if federalized National Guard units were similar deployed in the civil rights era.

            • kvs

              That’s closer to other times the military’s been used in response to civil disorder than it is to law enforcement.

    • rhino

      I would like to believe the military would refuse to comply.

      • osceola

        A lot of Latinos join the Guard for the extra pay and benefits (my boss’ brother is a captain in the NM guard) so I imagine there would be some passive resistance.

      • Caepan

        I would like to believe that, too.

        However, we live in an age where active duty soldiers drive on our nation’s highways like drunk high school kids waving Trump flags on their armored vehicles.

        • JR in WV

          And then get disciplined for breaking all kinds of regs, which goes on their record which is inspected by promotion boards.

          • lunaticllama

            I asked my nephew-first-removed (or some other complicated tangential relation) who is active duty in the Army about that incident and he said the chances of pulling a stunt like that and not getting disciplined are approximately zero.

  • Accomplishing the goals of Trump’s continuing campaign against migrants will require draconian methods (even if not in this specific form). Rejecting this particular proposal does not mean that equally troubling methods will not be forthcoming.

    This was my thought as well. Using the National Guard to round up immigrants would pose a whole host of legal and logistical challenges. For starters, according to the AP, the individual state governors would have to be involved, and it’s hard to see Jerry Brown going along with it. Colorado, Oregon, and Louisiana also have Democratic governors.

    However, they have a lot of other options. Leveraging federal funds to local/state police agencies in exchange for checking immigration status, for example, would be pretty evil. Ditto hospitals, schools, etc. They’ll settle on something vile, and probably something in a more legal gray area than militarizing 11 states.

    • For starters, according to the AP, the individual state governors would have to be involved, and it’s hard to see Jerry Brown going along with it. Colorado, Oregon, and Louisiana also have Democratic governors.

      My recent googling tells me that the president can federalize the guard under Title 10. Would this not bypass the governors?

  • Matty

    I really wonder if this isn’t a threat more than anything. It costs the current administration nothing, and (rightly) scares people.

  • (((Malaclypse)))

    But her e-mails!

  • Gwen

    Hmm, seems like a potential disaster on multiple levels:

    * This violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Posse Comitatus Act.

    * While I was fine with Jade Helm 15 and other practice maneuvers, in large part because there was no real interaction between troops and civilians, a large-scale operation where civilian-military interaction is routine is not liable to go smoothly. Somebody is going to get shot, especially if some overeager Weekend Warriors are not getting clear instructions from competent leaders.

    * I assume Mexico will not respond kindly, especially if the National Guard in any way enters Mexican territory.

    * This to me seems like it borders on ethnic cleansing. Would the military be opening itself up to charges of humanitarian crimes if it were involved in mass deportation?

    • americanpride

      While I was fine with Jade Helm 15 and other practice maneuvers, in large part because there was no real interaction between troops and civilians, a large-scale operation where civilian-military interaction is routine is not liable to go smoothly. Somebody is going to get shot, especially if some overeager Weekend Warriors are not getting clear instructions from competent leaders.

      This is probably the highest risk. Weekend drills at your typical infantry unit don’t include instruction on legal authorities and law enforcement interaction with the public; i.e. probable cause, unreasonable search and seizure, and so on. 100,000 soldiers are going to receive a day’s worth of legal training by power-point delivered by a unit officer who may or may not have legal training of his own. Also – soldiers will be subject to UCMJ, not civilian courts, with oversight provided by that soldier’s chain of command. It will cause a lot of legal and political problems for the military and they should push back on this.

      • rea

        Of course, a great many guardsmen have plenty of experience with law enforcement and interacting with the public–in Iraq.

      • Hogan

        This has been your orientation! Is there anything you do not understand? Is there anything you understand only partially? If you have not been fully oriented — if there is something you do not understand in all of its particulars you must file a complaint with personnel! File a faulty complaint… and they dock ya!

    • * This violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Posse Comitatus Act.

      It seems that this only applies under Title 10 activation by the president. Under Title 32 activation this does not apply, but I believe Title 32 requires concurrence of the state’s governor, which is why the memo stated that the guard would be called up subject to approval by each state’s governor.

  • I think one huge aspect of this that can’t be overlooked is that actions like this don’t just affect undocumented workers, but everybody who “looks undocumented,” as well. You could be a fifth generation American, but if a National Guardsman thinks you look like you don’t belong, you may be snatched up. And although there’s no requirement in this country that you have to carry proof of citizenship (“papers, please”), life is going to suck for you if you get caught up in this net and you don’t have satisfactory ID.

    • rea

      I hate it when the real world recapitulates an old Cheech & Chong movie.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Nitpick: Tommy Chong wasn’t in Born in East L.A.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Nor was he part of that movie. That was a post-C&C movie by Cheech. And it was really fairly decent.


          I highly recommend this recent interview with Cheech & Chong. It’s a lot of fun.

          Chong does most of the talking, and the story of his early life, growing up half-Chinese in Calgary and then being on the road as a bandleader for a band on the Motown label, all before he met Cheech, is neat stuff. Their story of their rise from strip club comedic interludes (at a club Chong owned) to major label success is also pretty neat. They both seem to be happy and well-adjusted guys.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            Um, OK. My point was simply that Born in East L.A. was not “an old Cheech & Chong movie” as rea suggests. It was just a Cheech Marin joint (pun fully intended).

      • Damn, I forgot all about that movie. Which, now that I recall my state as I watched it, isn’t surprising.

        • liberalrob

          I remember the song, not the movie.

          Jan-Michael Vincent!

    • Little Chak

      One thing I’ve never understood about the “every country that has had lax borders has ceased to exist” crowd (beyond them not being able to give an example of such that remotely resembles the present day United States) is that it is actually quite the reverse: it is not easy to think of a nation that devolved into “papers, please”, and is still around as such (i.e. without becoming a complete laughingstock, or with greatly reduced wealth and influence).

      • americanpride

        Palestine doesn’t have control of its borders and its ceasing to exist… oh, is that an inappropriate example? Must be fake news.

        • Rob in CT

          What are you some kind of liberal? A True Conservative knows there’s no such place as Palestine and never was.

          • JR in WV

            Actually and in fact, the country that is today ruled by King Abdullah II and called Jordan was before the British Protectorate times know as Trans-Jordanian Palestine. The name changed some time between then and now, and the Queen is Palestinian as well.

            This isn’t really snark, just an appropriate corrective historical detail. Old maps and reference books are a never-ending source of surprising facts.

            • Rob in CT

              Funny you should bring that up, because that’s the basis for the Conservative argument I’ve seen: there is no such thing as “Palestinians” – they’re Jordanian and they should go to Jordan (nevermind that Jordan can’t handle that).

              • sigaba

                By that logic there’s no such thing as Israel, all of those “Israelis” should go back to Russia and Romania.

                The Arabs who lived in Palestine claimed to be Jordanian when it was hoped Jordanian protection would let them keep their homes in Palestine. Didn’t work. Jews living in Palestine claimed to be loyal subjects of the British mandate, as long as the British were keeping Rommel at bay. Worked better.

      • j_doc

        Well, those Romans opened their borders and just declared everyone a citizen and look at what happened to them barely 1500 years later!

    • j_doc

      Yeah, it’s a little harder to implement a purely racist process in places like New Mexico, Arizona, or California. That might not stop someone from trying, but it ensures a robust public response from large numbers of citizens.

      It’s a potentially helpful catch-22, in that any “papers please” policy that is truly non-racist would be instantly radioactive among white people, while making it overtly racist is both obviously illegal and rallies enough opposition to make it just as radioactive in the places that matter.

  • ScottK

    I’m sure taking 100,000 Guardsmen out of their jobs to take a million immigrants out of their jobs will have no significant effect on the economy. None at all. Everything will be fine.

    • Karen24

      On the bright side, this would ensure that Texas and Arizona became blue states forever, and not because we’re suddenly so enlightened about immigrant rights. Losing all those employees for months and pissing off Mexico would crash our economies HARD and ignite a very serious backlash.*

      *No, I am not seriously suggesting that there is a good side to this plan. I am suggesting that destroying the economy of the only large red state is a dumb idea.

      • humanoid.panda

        That’s actually an interesting question: to what extent are Texas republicans are going to try and keep things sane re: deportations and such?

        • Karen24

          Depends. There are a number of restive Republican members of the House of Representatives that don’t like the Lt. Gov’s craziness about schools and general anti-business behavior. (Dan Patrick was a talk-radio goon before being elected Lt. Gov. He actually ran against the business interests, and runs the Senate like his own little Tea Party rally.) if the raids are big enough and in the wrong — ie, rural agricultural — places, then there will be immediate pushback.

          • humanoid.panda

            And beyond raids, its seems to me that turning the Mexican border to a Cold War GDR equivalent might not be so good for Texas economy..

            • Karen24

              It would be a catastrophe.

  • wengler

    Actually implementing this might also destroy the National Guard as an effective force. The Guard has a lot of white cops in it that voted for Trump, and also a lot of brown people that are related to undocumented migrants. It is not well suited for this particular mission.

    • CrunchyFrog

      The guard is much, much more white than the nation as a whole. 80% white according to the latest numbers I’ve seen, and very little non-black minority. They also are much less educated that the national averages and more likely to be rural.

      In short, the Guard looks a lot like Trump’s base. And that’s just based on demographics. The fact that they are in the Guard has a selection bias that skews pro-Trump even more.

      Now these are aggregate numbers and I suspect that in the states in question the numbers may be more Hispanic – but at the same time probably less black (given the demographics of the states in question) – so guessing they are still around 80% white on average.

      I have no idea whether this will go through. I have no doubt that Bannon and Trump think it’s a terrific idea and that the proposal was drafted for them. If it does go through, though, don’t look for a lot of resistance from the Guard itself.

      • CP

        I tend not to count on resistance from the military in general, period. In the form of “sir, this is a bad idea,” sure. In the form of actually disobeying orders? No.

  • Brien Jackson

    Anyone want to hazard a guess what Greenwald is doing on Twitter over this story?

    • rea


      • Little Chak

        The other guess would be screaming about it being a breach of national security by someone who was not duly elected by The People, and/or that it’s the sky-is-falling liberal media once again promoting fake news.

    • Matty

      This made me curious, so I checked. The only ways in which he’s mentioned it so far are demanding the AP release the entire memo. No comment on the content of it or what it might mean. Spending a lot of time talking about the Deep State, including retweeting our good friend Michael Tracey and a Fox Business interview with Dennis Kucinich.

      • Brien Jackson

        And retweeting Sean Spicer’s claim that it’s a fake.

        • CrunchyFrog

          You know, in the 2000s when Greenwald was on his anti-Bush administration crusade I would never have guessed that he picked up a sponsorship from Russia along the way. But it certainly makes a ton of sense in retrospect. In fact, given just how extensive Russian media influence has become (and I’m sure we know only a fraction of it) it would have been surprising if they hadn’t tried to sponsor him.

          It’s fascinating how many of the people who supposedly represent the left (add Stein to this list) have the same kind of approach now: “Well, of course Trump is bad, and I’m going to write/say a bit on that. And of course Putin is bad, and I might say one or two things about that for credibility purposes. But what I’m really going to emphasize is how bad Trump and Putin’s opponents are – and because I’m seen as a lefty the latter is what is going to be emphasized by others.”

          Not unlike the Lanny Davis and Pat Cadell schticks.

    • CP

      Making a passionate and emphatic stand against the prospect of such a horrible and abusive use of the security state to target vulnerable nonwhite populations, I’m sure.

    • liberalrob

      Is it important that Glenn comment on everything?

      • Brien Jackson

        He is commenting on it.

        • liberalrob

          Then you were able to answer your own question without trolling LGM, but decided to do so anyway. Well-played!

          • Brien Jackson

            Would you like to defend Glenn’s carrying watet for Trump, then?

            • liberalrob

              Not necessary, as he hasn’t done that.

              • Brien Jackson

                Oh no, retweeting the press secretary and implicitly calling the story fake is definitely not supporting Trump.

                • rhino

                  If it is fake, of course, then it wouldn’t be supporting Trump, it would be supporting truth.

                  Mind you, I’m inclined to think badly of Greenwald as default.

  • Rob in CT

    If this were a halfway normal GOP administration, I’d be willing to shrug and say oh well, some underling cooked up a kooky proposal that went nowhere.

    With this, I wonder. Is it just part of the chaos? Was it a trial balloon of sorts? A threat, as was suggested above? Part of a leak hunt? A “fake news” setup?

    Fuck this timeline.

    • CrunchyFrog

      Exactly – this was leaked precisely because 1) someone at the top asked for it and 2) the leaker in question realized how insane it is.

    • Was it a trial balloon of sorts?

      I dunno—does “balloon of sorts” come with an “oh, the humanity!” option?

    • osceola

      I think a handful of crackpot ideologues (Bannon among them) think they can implement whatever dumbass notion that looked good in a Breitbart or Newsmax column. As the rollout of the travel ban demonstrated, we should all be grateful these guys have shitty follow-through skills for their bad ideas.

      • efgoldman

        I think a handful of crackpot ideologues (Bannon among them) think they can implement whatever dumbass notion that looked good in a Breitbart or Newsmax column.

        President Bannonazi’s ventriloquist’s dummy, Mango Malignancy, doesn’t have one single advisor – not one – who came out of politics, or the political/legal field. If he has lawyers, clearly they can’t read.
        I can’t believe even an asshole like Sessions would go for it.

        • kvs

          Technically, Priebus would qualify for both.

          • liberalrob

            That’s why he’s CoS.

    • DocAmazing

      Unfortunately, there’s a history of horrifying ideas being floated that may or may not have been intended for implementation–Operation Northwoods is the classic example.

      It could be argued that just putting the idea down on paper achieves part of the intended goal. In any case, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of thing.

    • j_doc

      If it’s meant as a Chicago-style threat to uncooperative politicians in those states, I suspect it will not have the desired effect.

      • liberalrob

        Does that make it a Fort Lee-style threat?

        • DocAmazing

          Dear Mr Fader:

          You ask a lot of questions for someone from New Jersey…

  • Chip Daniels

    In reading about life under authoritarian rule, its been pointed out that ambiguity and impracticality are tools.

    Ambiguous yet draconian displays of power frighten and intimidate people into self-policing; Better to be safe than sorry.

    Even if this never get put into action, the intent here is to intimidate and terrify anyone of brown skin.

    ETA- I’m white as mayonnaise, and it freaks me the fuck out.

    • kvs

      That argument assumes that it was leaked by a supporter rather than by someone who wanted to mobilize opposition to it.

      And I don’t think it’s safe to assume that they’re brilliant game theorists.

  • NeonTrotsky

    If wanting the military to round people up isn’t fascism then I don’t know what is.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      So China under Mao was fascist?

      • Dagmar

        Trump may be working on an American counterpart to the Red Guard. First, he needs to print miniature copies of The Art of The Deal.

        • Chip Daniels

          And then round up anyone wearing eyeglasses.

        • DocAmazing

          The Little Orange Book?

      • rhino

        Do you understand basic logic?

        Wait, never mind. The answer is obvious.

  • Crusty

    I think some of these people just have a hard on for military type shit and watch too many movies and are stupid and like the idea of military operations all over the place, particularly directed at brown people.

  • efgoldman

    Oh, by the way, who’s going to pay for this unpolished turd? Will they appropriate the money before or after the budget for the wall?

    • Dagmar

      Tax the poor. They’ll have all kinds of money after the ACA repeal, leading to the massive reductions in healthcare costs.

  • Well it’s not like any of this costs money or anything.

    Let’s see, activating 100,000 National Guard for how many days?

    An E-4 with 4 years of service makes around $80/day base pay. That sounds like a pretty average rank for a guardsman.

    That puts around $8 million per day to have that many people activated.

    • Wouldn’t they want to volunteer their time for such a good cause and such a terrific leader?

      • ringtail

        I know you’re making a funny but I’m almost positive that would be an Anti-Deficiency Act violation.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Well it’s not like any of this costs money or anything.

      And that’s why the reaction to this is only slightly more meritorious than people panicking over an Infowars report about Jade Helm — it would cost billions of dollars to carry it out and there’s no means for the administration to cover the cost of something that large without congressional appropriations.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Once you have a majority on the Fed board, you just run the printing presses.

        Salus populi, suprema lex.

  • Philip

    Just to be extremely clear, *this* is how you get a civil war

    • Mike in DC

      Indeed. Undocumented workers don’t live in separate, segregated communities from other Latinos or Asians. The prospect of military vehicles driving through neighborhoods while armed soldiers go door to door and people in the street are stopped and asked to show their papers…I’d expect resistance to take many forms, including nonviolent and violent means.

      • rhino

        I would expect a dozen dead guardsmen, and a hundred dead civilians in the first two hours.

        This plan reeks of Bannon.

    • Dagmar

      A civil war is an excellent excuse for declaring martial law, and suspending due process and habeas corpus for citizens.

  • j_doc

    “Listen to and believe what they say”, right?

    Have we all* finally woken up to the idea that military deportation squads going house-to-house rounding people up and shipping them off en masse to camps or trains is the actual proposed reality, not hysterical hyperbole?

    This plan would not end well, and it may even end not well before it gets properly started.

    *not LGM, the rest of the country

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Have we all* finally woken up to the idea that military deportation squads going house-to-house rounding people up and shipping them off en masse to camps or trains U.S. government agents committing acts of terrorism against American civilians and military targets, blaming it on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba is the actual proposed reality, not hysterical hyperbole?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northwoods (And let’s not even talk about “War Plan Red”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Plan_Red)

      The existence of plans (especially unsigned, unapproved ones) does not come close to constituting the “actual proposed reality.”

      • j_doc

        I think you’re making a category error. Sure, there have been lots of similarly terrifying plans of varying seriousness. Most were highly secret, and contingent. Few represented proactive implementation of a public and explicit policy promise. That is a real distinction.

        Jackson-era Indian removal is probably the closest analogy and not a reassuring one.

      • Matty

        So, I’m just one of those jackass millenials, but I don’t recall War with Cuba being an explicit campaign promise of the Kennedy administration in the same way that deporting every undocumented immigrant in the country was one of Trumps.

        • DocAmazing

          I do remember reading something about MH-CHAOS, the Bay of Pigs invasion and a whole bunch of other stuff that suggested that Northwoods wasn’t that far off of what might be considered acceptable by elements of the CIA. You might find the idea of domestic terrorism sponsored by groups within the government to be far-fetched; other folks have dealt with agents provocateurs and out-of-control COINTELPRO types.

  • Chip Daniels

    I think its clear enough that the 45 Administration is a muddled chaotic mess, so ascribing some nefarious 11 dimensional chess strategy to it is in error.


    I come back to the notion that Trumps base doesn’t have a clear set of policy goals and desired outcomes, other than inflicting punishment on their perceived enemies and exacting vengeance for their revanchist grievances.

    Putting brown people on notice, even if it never gets carried out, while maybe not a well thought thru strategy, is a desired goal.
    Notice how the “limited” and “temporary” ban on “some immigrants from some Muslim nations” resulted in non-Muslim green card holders being detained and interrogated, Muslims from Canada being turned away.

    The purpose here is to impress upon everyone the arbitrary power, to flex their muscles and say “Look at what we can do with impunity!”

    At some point, this is the directive communicated from Trump/Bannon, even if it is not explicit, even if it is in a “who will rid me of this troublesome priest” sort of way.

    • Davis X. Machina

      The Trumpist state is a vehicle for getting people.

      Get the Muslims.
      Get the liberals.
      Get the uppity blahs.
      Get the media.
      Get the Mexicans.
      Get the wimmins.

      Get. Get. Get.

      It’s a 12th century conception of the state. Commingle the public and private fisc. Establish a dynasty. Enrich your friends, punish your enemies, and fight the occasional war of religion.

      • Chip Daniels

        I’m binge watching Game of Thrones to get ready for the new season, and damn if it doesn’t seem prescient.

        Except nobody poisoned our King Joffrey, yet.

        • rhino

          Lots of poisons cause madness before death…

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    It’s like America subscribed to the Niemoller of the Month Club.

  • e.a.foster

    This is the really scary part. We will see how Govenors and the guards people themselves react when ordered to do their new jobs. If they lay down their arms and say, no way then the citizens have won.

    People need to remember, after WW II many said they were simply following orders. We all know how it turned out.

    it may also result in a civil war. if large round ups begin, that is approx. 8 million undocumented workers. Americans and those who live in the country are well armed. They may not go quietly. Not every one wants a shoot out with their neighbour. Then of course there is the small matter of if people become afraid, they may not report crimes, which is going to result in a whole other problem, like paid for vigilantes.

    People who have spend 10 to 30 years in the U.S.A. with American born children may not go willingly and if they feel they have noting to loose, the country may be lost.

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