The White House is denying a media report that it is considering the deployment of up to 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants in 11 states, some far from the Mexican border.
The White House denial on February 17 came minutes after the Associated Press (AP) reported seeing a draft memo proposing the unprecedented deployments.
AP said the proposal was in an 11-page memo written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.
It said the plan would target millions of people living as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans.
AP said four of the 11 states mentioned in the memo border Mexico -- California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas
It said the seven other states were Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
The report said the draft memo was dated January 25 and addressed to the then acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
AP also said the draft document has been circulating among Department of Homeland Security staff during the past two weeks.
National Guard troops in the past have been used in immigration-related matters on the U.S. border with Mexico. But the proposal reported by AP would be the first time they were used as broadly or as far north.
'100 Percent Not True'
White House spokesman Sean Spicer called the AP report "100 percent not true" and "irresponsible."
Spicer said "There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants."
The AP report comes after U.S. President Donald Trump announced on February 16 that he plans to issue a new executive order on immigration next week.
The new order would replace an earlier executive order, which was put on hold by U.S. federal courts, that called for a temporary ban on entry to the United States by citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Trump said at a news conference on February 16 that his new executive order would be "tailored" to avoid the constitutional problems with his earlier travel ban that were raised in court rulings.
Details of the new order were not immediately available.
But officials in Trump's administration have said they may move to ban entry only by foreigners from the seven Muslim-majority countries who have never previously entered the United States, ensuring that legal U.S. residents from those countries would not be affected.
A U.S. appeals court late on February 16 granted the White House's request for a pause in the legal fight over its initial travel ban so that it can issue the replacement order.
Bob Ferguson, the Washington state attorney general who led the court challenge to the original Trump order, said the latest moves by the White House amount to "conceding defeat."
With reporting by AP and Reuters