The United States Customs and Border Protection Agency will begin releasing some illegal immigrant detainees — particularly those who have crossed the border with their families — because they are running out of places to house the thousands of migrants per month who are captured jumping the border, or who present themselves seeking asylum.
ABC News reports that at least 50 illegal immigrants have been released already, and more are expected to be given paper notices with court dates and sent to stay with family members in the U.S. Most of the releases are set to take place along Mexico’s border with Texas, particulalry near El Paso and McAllen — two major crossing points.
The releases are being done “to mitigate risks to both officer safety and vulnerable populations under these circumstances,” a CBP spokesperson told reporters.
“Normally, the Border Patrol would transfer the migrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be ‘processed’ and in many cases placed in detention facilities. But officials said that both agencies have run out of space due to a recent influx of Central American families,” the LA Times added.
The space constraints have led to overwhelmed CPB and ICE agents, but also to dangerous conditions for migrants. In some of the most crowded border patrol detention facilities in Texas, communicable diseases like the mumps have run rampant, infecting hundreds of people recently arrived in migrant caravants from Central America. Other immigrants have arrived with the flu, dehydration, and health problems contracted on the journey through Mexico.
Providing beds for incoming migrants is difficult enough, but the border patrol has now found itself in the position of becoming a medical services provider, which it isn’t equipped or experienced enough to do well.
The sheer numbers are also incredible. The Department of Homeland Security Chief Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress in early March that she anticipates CBP will process at least 100,000 illegal immigrants — mostly asylum seekers — in the month of March.
In February, the LA Times reports, border patrol caught 66,450 migrants, a 38% increase from January, and a 210% increase from the same period in 2018. “More than half of those arrested,” the outlet added, “were parents and children, and 40 percent of those were in the Rio Grande Valley.”
The Trump administration has repeatedly said there is a crisis along the border, and the numbers seem to back up the administration’s assessment, even though far fewer illegal immigrants are coming through the border now than ten years ago, at the height of illegal immigration.
Strangely enough, immigrant rights groups are angry about the releases, and claim that the administration is trying to create an “artificial” crisis at the border by releasing detainees into the care of non-profits and advocacy groups that insist there is no need for further work on a border wall or more funds necessary for immigration interdiction. But CPB says this is just the reality — they’ve simply run out of room.