100,000 National Guardsmen mobilized to deport immigrants? The anatomy of a news cycle

David Graham writes: Friday morning, the Associated Press dropped a bombshell report: “Trump administration considers mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants,” the new agency’s Twitter account announced.

The hubbub that followed, as the White House denied the report, is a case study in the strange dance between the press and the Trump administration, and the complicated environment of information asymmetry, and misinformation, that characterizes the current moment in American politics. And it shows how the Trump administration deflects genuine reporting by caricaturing it, sometimes clumsily, as “fake news.”

The AP tweet came at 10:12 a.m. Eastern time, with the full story coming a few minutes later:

The Trump administration is considering 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 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.

The story is a classic Trump administration story: a sweeping, surprising move; a leaked memo substantiating the story, emerging from a very leaky administration; and a policy in keeping with the president’s campaign promise to deport illegal immigrants.

The story quickly mushroomed online and in social media, with stunned reaction at the idea of the U.S. government deploying a hundred thousand armed troops around the country, away from the border. Reporters scrambled to figure out what the legal authority for the move would be, and to figure out how state governments might react.

And yet some people immediately sensed that something about the story seemed off:


Within minutes, in fact, Trump officials denied the story, on the record, to reporters. Press Secretary Sean Spicer spoke to a White House reporters as President Trump prepared to leave for a trip to South Carolina, saying, “That is 100% not true. It is false. It is irresponsible to be saying this. There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants.”

But Spicer’s comment added two interesting wrinkles. First, he scolded the AP for not seeking comment before publishing the story. But as a reporter responded, the AP had asked both the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment multiple times before publication, and had received nothing. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “100,000 National Guardsmen mobilized to deport immigrants? The anatomy of a news cycle

  1. Dieter Heymann

    Here is the Trump dilemma. When he was still a contender he promised swift and huge arrests and deportations of illegal US residents. Now that he is president reality strikes hard. During a day of intense activity ICE personnel arrested about 650 illegal residents. Given similar activity it will take ICE more than four years to arrest one million illegal residents. That tells us the dilemma: there is not enough ICE personnel to do the job. Moreover many of them are involved in the across-borders drug trafficking at ports of entry.
    Where can we get more help to arrest illegal residents without greatly disturbing the regular daily security of all US communities. The police? Quite aside from legal restraints is it wise to “borrow” the police for uncertain periods? Ah! The Armed Forces. With 100,000 each will have to arrest only 10 illegals to catch one million. Let us say one month? That sounds encouraging but where will you house and process one million persons detained in one month? OK, so you go slow and do only 100,000 per month. That is still one he*l of a big prison camp if you cannot also get 100,000 out and across our borders each month.
    The resolution of illegal residents is typical Trump. You make grandiose promises to your voters but when reality strikes you must hope that they will forgive and forget. That will be the governance of the USA for the next four years.

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