As the border crisis goes on, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations have become an “unofficial travel agency,” and its agents are forced to coordinate travel for some illegal immigrants who have criminal records, according to Fox News on Wednesday, citing a source from ICE.
The ICE official cited by Fox News was reacting to the outlet’s report, which said that authorities are quickly processing the cases of single adult illegal immigrants. With these, they are being released into the country in massive groups via a hub located in Brownsville, Texas.
Footage showed by Fox News showed multiple federally contracted busses dropping off a large group of mostly male illegal migrants at a parking garage in Brownsville. Black tarps that were set up can also be seen with a sign saying “Border Patrol drop-off” above it.
Since that time, the media outlet reported that it has witnessed hundreds of migrants being let into the area in just several days. From there, the illegal migrants are transported to bus stations and airports nearby via taxis.
According to the source, this report only scratches the surface of what was going on. The source also mentioned that mas releases have been going on discretely since February. Now, the source also revealed that ICe’s fugitive operation teams have become virtually nonexistent while the Enforcement and Removal Operation turned into what the source described as an “unofficial travel coordination agency.”
“Between [releases] and the vaccine mandate the morale is at the lowest,’ the source stated. “Imagine going to the office to make phone calls all day to coordinate travel for someone who just came in illegally, some of them with criminal records.”
President Joe Biden’s administration severely limited ICE’s scope for making arrests and deportations. It also stopped worksite enforcement raids, banned agents for apprehending migrants at certain locations, and severely limited enforcement to three priorities: those who crossed the border recently, aggravated felons, and people considered to be national security threats.
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of Homeland Security recently touted the current administration’s rule that illegal migrants’ status shouldn’t be the basis of enforcing action against them.
“We have fundamentally changed immigration enforcement in the interior,” Mayorkas said during an interview with CBS News
Additionally, Fox News’ ICE source told them that the agency has started releasing migrants even though they have done misdemeanor crimes like assault, drug possession, DUI, and illegal entry. Apparently, Ice is only withholding migrants with serious felonies.
Meanwhile, when it comes to whether American taxpayers are paying for the migrant travel bill, the agent said: “We make contact with the family members and ask them for an address and to please buy a ticket (bus or plane). If they don’t, then the NGO buys the ticket and bills the government.”
This week, ICE told Fox News that the agency makes custody determinations on a case-to-case basis, as stipulated by the law. It also claims to consider the merits of every case. The agency also transports the migrants to airports and transit stations while also coordinating with NGOs to provide them with the basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. ICE also confirmed that it has set up an operations center in Brownsville to support individuals and manage testing for COVID-19.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) focuses its civil immigration enforcement priorities on the apprehension and removal of noncitizens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” a spokesperson for the ICE said.
“Noncitizens processed under Title 8 are evaluated for a custodial determination based on their immigration and criminal background, applicable sections of law, and established processing criteria. Individuals deemed suitable for release are released in coordination with local partners and are subject to reporting requirements associated with their immigration proceedings,” the spokesperson went on to say.
In December, over 178,000 migrant apprehensions have been recorded, ending a year that had over 212,000 monthly encounters at one point during the border crisis. Many officials think that this high rate will persist through the year.
The Biden administration has taken back several key Trump-era policies, but it has also been forced by court to reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols. These protocols make migrants wait in Mexico for their hearings. However, only a few hundred have enrolled in the said program so far.