At 10:12 a.m. ET, the Associated Press dropped a bombshell on Twitter:
Shortly after the tweet, AP published a full story, titled: “Trump weighs mobilizing Nat Guard for immigration roundups.” Here’s the problem–it was riddled with misinformation. Here are the three most critical points the AP screwed up:
1. Trump Administration Didn’t Consider it
The AP story begins with the words: “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.”
The term “Trump administration” implies a group close to the president, and generally the president himself. There is absolutely no evidence that President Trump ever knew about this memo, or that anyone close to him knew about it.
Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that the administration “considered” it. According to a DHS source quoted by Reuters, it was an “‘early, early version’ of a document being prepared by staff for Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.”
2. John Kelly Didn’t Write it
The original AP story states (emphasis added): “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.”
However, as noted above, it was a “document being prepared by staff for Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.” According to Reuters: “Discussion of the National Guard was dropped before the memo ever made it to Kelly’s desk, the official said.”
It’s understandable that the Associated Press would think Kelly wrote the memo because it has his name on it. However, they apparently failed to do even the most basic research before publication, and had to be corrected by Reuters.
The revised AP story states: “A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for approval.”
In their rush to get a potentially damaging story to the digital presses, it appears as though the Associated Press didn’t bother with due diligence.
3. Nowhere is the 100,000 Number Mentioned
AP’s tweet, as well as the lede in their official story, pushes the “100,000 National Guard troops” narrative. The memo never once mentions numbers of National Guard troops, let alone 100,000.
Heres what the memo does say about the National Guard:
“Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes me to enter into an agreement with a state or political subdivision thereof, for the purpose of authorizing qualified officers or employees of the state or subdivision to perform the functions of an immigration officer. This grant of authority, known as the 287(g) program, has been a highly successful force multiplier that authorizes state or local law enforcement personnel to perform all law enforcement functions specified in section 287(a) of the INA, including the authority to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, and conduct searches of an alien for the purposes of enforcing the immigration laws…
Pursuant to Title 32 of the United States code, State National Guard components are employees of their respective states and are under the command of their Governors when they are not in federal service. Based on their training and experience, these men and women are particularly well-suited to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law and augment border security operations by Department components.
To maximize participation by state and local jurisdictions in the enforcement of federal immigration law, I am directing the director of ICE to engage with all willing and qualified law enforcement jurisdictions for the purpose of entering into agreements under Section 287(g) of the INA.
Additionally, I am directing the commissioner of CBP and the director of ICE to immediately engage with the Governors of the states adjacent to the land border with Mexico and those States adjoining such border States for the purpose of entering into agreements under Section 287(g) of the INA to authorize qualified members of the State National Guard, while such members are not in federal service, or qualified members of a state militia or state defense force under the command of the Governor, to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension, and detention of aliens in the United States.”
100,000 is nowhere to be seen.
The Associated Press was also rebutted by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who said the story was “100% not true.”
The entire memo can be read here.