Immigration and Customs Enforcement cannot hold on to any more illegal immigrants and now they will have to let them go.
Democrat policies have incentivized bringing children and families with them and now they have to be let go by law, Vox Reported.
Hundreds, or even thousands, of migrant families are set to be released from government detention along the US-Mexico border over the next several days. But while the mass release of families may cheer critics of the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrant families, the government’s new plan will probably lead to hundreds of families getting dropped off en masse at bus stations — literally out in the cold.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that’s generally responsible for immigrant detention, has already started mass releases of hundreds of families a day.
But in a break with standard policy, US Border Patrol has developed a plan to release some families directly if they’ve been held for more than a few days — instead of holding all families for ICE to pick up.
Plans for Border Patrol to release families directly were confirmed to Vox by two officials with knowledge of the mass-release operation. The sources said that releases from both ICE and Border Patrol could start as soon as Thursday and are expected to last for a few days — with hundreds of families a day set to be released in the Rio Grande Valley and around El Paso.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, Katie Waldman, did not confirm any plan to release families directly from Border Patrol custody.
However, in a statement, Waldman partly blamed a 2015 ruling extending legal protections to children who arrived with parents in the US — including requiring Border Patrol to keep them in custody for no more than 72 hours — for causing the current “immigration crisis”, saying it “incentivizes illegal alien adults to put their children in the hands of smugglers and traffickers” and “rewards parents for bringing their children with them to the United States.”
Releasing families who’ve entered the US without papers from detention is the exact outcome the Trump administration has spent all of 2018 deriding as “catch and release,” and which it has rolled out a series of policy initiatives — “zero tolerance” prosecution and widespread family separation, regulatory efforts to keep families in detention until they’re deported, the “asylum ban” now blocked in the courts, a not-yet-implemented plan to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico — to prevent…
That means families who have no knowledge of the US might be getting dumped en masse at bus stations in the middle of winter, many without winter clothing and all without guidance about what to do next.
Officials and nonprofits alike at the border are being asked to do something they have never had to do before: take care of tens of thousands of migrant families coming in a month, often in large groups and often in remote areas. President Trump’s constant stoking of panic about immigrants coming into the US to commit crimes has overshadowed a real crisis at the border over the past several months — a crisis of resources. Unprecedented numbers of families are coming into the US without papers, and no one has the capacity to deal with them humanely.
Under Border Patrol policy, every apprehended migrant is supposed to be transferred to ICE within 72 hours. That standard is especially important for children and families, because the Flores settlement, the legal agreement governing the treatment of children in immigration custody, requires children to spend no more than 72 hours in Border Patrol custody (except in extraordinary circumstances).
Since 2015, that standard has applied to children who arrive with their parents as well as children who arrive alone. That’s the ruling that DHS spokesperson Waldman blames for encouraging families to come to the US without papers: “As long as activist judges continue to set national immigration policy,” she told Vox in a statement, “they continue to put family units and innocent children in harm’s way.”
Previously, when that didn’t happen — when ICE didn’t pick up a family from Border Patrol within 72 hours of their apprehension — Border Patrol just kept holding them anyway until ICE could pick them up. But for the next few days, ICE is under pressure to create as much room as possible to pick up more immigrant families from Border Patrol. And if they can’t create enough to take everyone, Border Patrol is taking matters into its own hands.
Under the new plan, as described to Vox, ICE has targets for the number of families it’s supposed to release from detention in specific areas along the border — with the most releases happening in the Rio Grande Valley and the El Paso sector (which covers New Mexico as well as the western end of the Texas-Mexico border).
Meanwhile, Border Patrol field operatives have been given guidance on a new process that would allow them to directly release families under certain circumstances.
As described to Vox, the guidance instructs Border Patrol employees in a given sector to notify ICE that they’ve been holding a certain number of families for more than 72 hours and that it’s going to get them out of its custody. Unless ICE has created enough room to pick up those families, the guidance instructs Border Patrol to call a local nonprofit and ask if they have capacity to take newly released families. If not, the families would be issued notices to appear in immigration court at a later date, and dropped off at transit centers like Greyhound bus stations.