Illegal immigrants who have flooded across the border seeking “permisos” that they believe will allow them to indefinitely remain in the United States have reportedly been phoning others in Central America to inform them they are being allowed to stay in America for years until their cases are processed.
According to the Associated Press, per United States law regarding illegal immigrants not from Mexico, “the Central American minors who cross the border alone have generally been released into the care of relatives already in the U.S., while mothers with children are let go with a notice to appear later in immigration court.”
Many of the families “are reporting in calls back home that they’re free to move around the U.S. while their cases wend through a process that can take years.”
“The story is that you have to give yourself up to the Border Patrol, provide a contact in the United States and you’ll be freed even though they give you a court date far in the future,” Ruben Figueroa, a member of the Mesoamerica Migrant Movement, told the AP.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) has already said on numerous occasions that illegal immigrants who are given notices to appear before ICE officials or in court are never going to show up. He has estimated that at least 40,000 illegal immigrants have recently received such notices that they are mistaking for “permits” to remain in the country. On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said illegal immigrants are flooding across the border seeking permits that they think say, “Welcome to the United States, you are free.”
ICE officials have also told the Los Angeles Times that “they couldn’t guarantee that they would pursue all cases in which immigrants do not show up for follow-up appointments,” which has further convinced illegal immigrants that they can remain indefinitely in the country once they make it across the border.