By Jon Dougherty
There could be no better example of congressional malpractice, malfeasance, and neglect than the way lawmakers have allowed the situation along the U.S.-Mexico border to languish and deteriorate.
During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Nathalie R. Asher, acting executive associate director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), said that tens of thousands of migrants who have crossed illegally into the U.S. are skipping their required court dates after being released into the interior.
“Due to such challenges, since mid-December 2018, ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] has released over 160,000 family unit members into the United States with instructions to report to a local ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations] field office and immigration court,” she told the panel.
The Washington Examiner reported:
The agency has just 2,500 beds for families in its custody and 60,000 immigrant families being taken into custody monthly. An unspecified number of those families are being released by Customs and Border Patrol and not transferred to ICE because CBP does not have room to take in new detainees.
Since the start of the 2019 fiscal year last October, 248,000 of the total 460,000 people who illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico were in family groups.
ICE has 42,000 beds for single adults. Asher said the Department of Homeland Security agency has an average of between 46,000 and 48,000 single adults in its custody daily.
“Truly, if we could house, if we could hold families beyond the 20 days so that we could ensure that they have their day in court … we could absolutely use more beds,” Asher said.
Meantime, as the Washington Times added, 87 percent of those migrants — nearly 9-in-10 — are not showing up for their court dates, leaving immigration judges to order them deported in absentia.
The problem, however, is that federal immigration authorities simply don’t have the resources to round up everyone who has been ordered to leave.
And worse, Congress seems little concerned about it.
ICE has already released 168,000 illegal immigrant family members into the U.S. this fiscal year, and the number is likely to surge as the border situation deteriorates, a top deportation official told Congress on Wednesday.
According to the results of a pilot program, a staggering 87% of released families are skipping their court hearings, leaving judges to order them deported in absentia — and the government is ill-equipped to track them down.
“Family units are not appearing in great numbers,” said Nathalie R. Asher, the acting chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deportation branch.
The Times noted that Asher “pleaded” with senators Wednesday for more resources as the numbers of illegal aliens being apprehended by Border Patrol, ICE, and Customs and Border Protection officials has topped 100,000 for the second month in a row:
Nearly 110,000 were nabbed at the southwestern border in April, including nearly 100,000 caught by the Border Patrol trying to sneak into the U.S. The other 10,000 were encountered when they showed up at ports of entry demanding to be let in, despite lacking permission.
That total is the highest in more than a decade.
Meanwhile, for competing reasons, Democrats and Republicans in Congress — the people’s ‘representatives’ — continue to turn a deaf ear to pleas by federal agencies and tens of millions of Americans to do something to shore up border security.
That surge is being fueled by lax U.S. policies, and particularly a court ruling in 2015 that illegal immigrant parents who travel with children must be released within 20 days. That is too little time to complete a court case, meaning the government has no choice but to set the families free on the vain hope that they return for deportation hearings.
“They have received the message loud and clear: Bring a child, you will be released,” said Carla Provost, chief of the Border Patrol.
A staggering 1% of the populations of Guatemala and Honduras have made the journey north to the U.S. and jumped the border in just the past seven months, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said this week.
And more will come unless or until Congress acts — which seems extremely given current political realities.
Border Patrol Chief Carol Provost discussed the latest apprehension figures which she called “off-the-charts” during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We cannot address this crisis by simply shifting more resources or building more facilities,” Provost told lawmakers. “It’s like holding a bucket under a faucet. It doesn’t matter how many buckets you give me if we can’t turn off the flow.”
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