Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have released over 600 undocumented immigrants onto the streets of Texas—with 500 of them set free in El Paso— and New Mexico, citing the government’s difficulty in holding the massive influx of Central Americans crossing the border.
ICE made several other mass immigrant releases in previous days, claiming that these were foreign nationals who had already been detained for the maximum amount of time legally allowed. Another reason cited by the agency is that accommodations for detained immigrants have already reached their maximum capacity. ICE released 186 immigrants on Christmas Day and at least another 400 two days prior.
“To mitigate the risk of holding family units past the timeframe allotted to the government, ICE has curtailed reviews of post-release plans from families apprehended along the southwest border,” ICE claimed in a statement. “ICE continues to work with local and state officials and NGO partners in the area so they are prepared to provide assistance with transportation or other services.”
Ruben Garcia, an administrator at Annunciation House, a homeless and refugee shelter in El Paso, attributed the releases to a new Customs and Border Patrol policy. Garcia claimed that when there are “more people to drop off [than] local shelters and agencies can receive and house, then ICE will drop those migrants off in the street.”
“It is unacceptable to release families with children, some of them very young children, to the street,” Garcia lamented. “That, we have to say, is a non-negotiable, that is simply not acceptable. Whatever logistics, whatever pressures may exist, we have got to find a system to ensure families are not released to the street.”
Garcia claimed that he has been regularly informing ICE on the availability of space at the shelter and coordinating drop-offs and shelter placement for immigrants about to be released. Despite this, ICE released 214 people – all families – to Annunciation House without prior notice. Garcia has been processing around 2,000 migrants every week this month and expects more releases this Thursday.
El Paso Democratic Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar urged the government to build temporary holding facilities to house the displaced immigrants in light of reports that ICE has been dropping off migrants at bus stations with nowhere to go.
While public attention is centered on the massive migrant caravans coming to or arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, with one already parked in Tijuana, reports show that immigrants have continued to illegally cross through the Texas border in increasing numbers.
If you would like to learn more about this latest update to U.S. immigration policy, or have a loved one seeking immigration assistance in Texas, don’t hesitate to sit down for a consultation with the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215-5225 to talk with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.