Border Patrol releasing immigrant families into US instead of transferring to ICE
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Border Patrol agents have been quietly releasing immigrant families apprehended at the southern border rather than transferring them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to continue being held in federal custody, a senior Department of Homeland Security official told reporters Tuesday.
Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello said the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border has become so dire that Border Patrol agents are letting families go free into the United States and telling them to show up for asylum hearings in the future instead of putting them in ICE custody for 20 days, the maximum amount of time they can be detained due to a 2015 court ruling.
“CBP [Customs and Border Protection] is doing some of their own release and as the flow continues, we may have to start doing that,” Vitiello said following a speech at the Border Security Expo.
“They are overwhelmed, and we are in a position where we’re not able to help them as fast as we want to,” he said.
Vitiello, who worked for CBP for three decades, said the release an unspecified number of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. is “not really different” than what CBP did in the mid-2000s. Back then, Border Patrol agents were arresting nearly 100,000 people per month and would release some out the back door of stations. Read the entire report here and see the video.