More than a dozen House Republicans on Tuesday wrote to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting answers over “troubling reports” that the Biden administration is releasing illegal immigrants into the country without court dates.
“Despite your repeated claims that ‘the border is secure,’ these reports raise serious questions about DHS’ commitment to faithfully enforcing the law,” the 14 lawmakers, led by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., wrote.
Fox News confirmed Sunday that Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) have begun to process and release migrants without issuing a Notice to Appear (NTA).
The move places the responsibility of seeking an asylum hearing on the migrants through Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or legal assistance.
Multiple Border Patrol agents confirmed the new process to Fox News, revealing that they have been directed to use prosecutorial discretion to forgo the hours-long process of paperwork required to issue an NTA amid the surge of migrants at the border.
Instead, migrants are registered into the system with biometrical data taken and largely released into the public, in one instance, at a bus station in McAllen, Texas. It does not apply to unaccompanied children.
A senior source with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told Fox News on Saturday that officials were considering the controversial move because the ongoing crisis on the border has “become so dire that BP [Border Protection] has no choice but to release people nearly immediately after apprehension because there is no space to hold people even to do necessary NTA paperwork.”
The lawmakers on Tuesday sent a list of questions to Mayorkas, including how many migrants have been released without being issued an NTA, how many have been released without claiming a fear of persecution if returned home, and how many have been found to have such a credible fear.
It also asks how many migrants have been paroled into the U.S. and if they will be eligible for employment authorization. They request answers by Friday.
The letter comes amid increasing pressure on the administration, particularly from Republicans, over the crisis — which critics have said is fueled by the liberalization of immigration policy by the new administration.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Tuesday released photos of crowded facilities, including children sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder on mats on the floor with aluminum blankets and on benches.
The office of Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, released photos of the same center in Donna, Texas, on Monday, as journalists call for better access to the southern border and the Biden administration continues to deny that the border situation is a crisis.
“More has to be done to address this growing humanitarian crisis,” Cuellar tweeted. “These migrant children need our help right now. Not later.”