Sunday 25 February 2018

'Report of 100,000 troops to round up immigrants 100pc false,' says White House

President Trump gave a wild press conference on Thursday Picture: REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Trump gave a wild press conference on Thursday Picture: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Nick Allen

The White House has denied a report it is considering mobilising as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorised immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border.

An 11-page draft memo, obtained by the Associated Press, calls for the unprecedented militarisation of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

However, Sean Spicer, Mr Trump's spokesman, said the suggestion was "100pc false".

The proposal includes 11 states. Four of those border Mexico. They are California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The other seven states are further north. They are Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Governors in all 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, the memo said.

The memo was written by Mr Trump's US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

Speaking on board Marine One, Mr Spicer denied suggestions the National Guard was being mobilised. He said: "That is 100pc not true. It is false. It is irresponsible to be saying this.

"There is no effort at all to round up, to utilise the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants."

It came as the Kremlin responded to Mr Trump's wild 75-minute press conference on Thursday by ordering state-owned television to stop broadcasting coverage of the US president. It was the latest signal that Russia is losing confidence that friendly relations could be established with the US under Mr Trump.

In the bizarre press conference, Mr Trump accused the media of undermining his attempts to establish friendly relations with Mr Putin.

He dismissed claims that he owed his election victory to Moscow's interference as he insisted: "Russia is fake news."

"If we could get along with Russia, that's a positive thing," he continued, claiming the press wanted him to get into a conflict over reports that a Russian surveillance ship has been loitering off the shore of New England, a Russian missile test and a recent encounter between a Russian plane and a US ship.

"The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles offshore right out of the water," Trump said.

"We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20pc of the uranium in our country," he added.

"You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons, and other things. Like, lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things. Nobody talks about that."

Mr Trump also suggested he would replace his controversial executive order temporarily barring travel from seven Muslim-majority countries next week with a new, revised order.

He said the rollout of the travel ban was "very smooth" despite legal challenges his administration has faced, and chaos at airports when hundreds of protesters voiced their disapproval.

Meanwhile, two Syrian rescue workers revealed that they plan to travel to next week's Oscar ceremony, where their documentary 'White Helmets' is nominated for an award, after weeks of uncertainty caused by the ban.

Raed Saleh, the leader of the White Helmets, and cinematographer Khaled Khatib have both obtained visas to travel for the ceremony in LA.

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and actress Taraneh Alidoosti, who stars in his foreign-language nominated film 'The Salesman', have said they will boycott the Academy Awards to protest Trump's travel restrictions.

Irish Independent

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