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For Immediate Release:
Friday, February 17, 2017

Washington, DC – Mary Small, policy director of Detention Watch Network (DWN) responds to the Associated Press report that the Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard to act as immigration enforcement agents:

“Unfortunately, the inclusion of plans to mobilize the National Guard to act as immigration enforcement agents is only one of the many deeply disturbing aspects of the draft memo that was leaked earlier today. The draft also includes details about deputizing state National Guard components to act as immigrant enforcement agents, mandatory and automatic detention for everyone apprehended, the virtual end of parole, and breathtaking moves toward processing people’s immigration cases from inside facilities in Mexico. It also includes the expansion of expedited removal – a program that threatens basic due process rights – to the entire country in an attempt to facilitate more and faster deportations.

Despite denials from the White House that mobilization of the National Guard is being considered, it is horrifying that an idea so indicative of an all out police state was put into writing in the first place by John Kelly, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Communities across the country are already being terrorized through sweeping unconstitutional raids, and a growing number of people are being held in immigration detention, as Trump promotes an agenda of fear and criminalization. This memo ups the ante on the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement, which already operates with impunity as ICE collaborates with local law enforcement to carry out discriminatory deportation programs.

We demand Secretary Kelly address this memo publicly in its entirety and be held accountable for suggesting the escalation of police state tactics.”

Since the late 1990’s, the number of people held in immigration detention has exploded. On any given day, ICE detains over 33,000 immigrants; this is more than triple the number of beds since 1996. In the last 5 years alone, the annual number of immigrants detained and the costs of detaining them has doubled: In 2010, approximately 392,000 immigrants were detained, costing taxpayers $1.77 billion at an average of $122 a day per bed. Nearly 2.5 million individuals have passed through immigration detention facilities since 2003.


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Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit