While the Border Patrol has apprehended tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the United States in recent years, fewer than one in 27 have been sent home, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) revealed Tuesday.
Speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining the ongoing border surge of illegal immigrant minors, Sessions said that although 127,193 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended in the past 2.5 years, just 4,860 have been returned home.
“And so what we’ve done is we only have about three — 3.5 percent of people apprehended being returned home. What message does that send?” Sessions said.
With less rounding, however, the repatriation rate works out to about 3.68 percent. That’s fewer than one repatriation for every twenty-seven border-crossers.
The majority of the unaccompanied minors that were apprehended illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years are originally from Central America. Democrats and immigration activists argue that violence and crime in Central America has driven the migration. Republicans and Sessions say the Obama administration’s failure to enforce immigration laws have served to attract illegal immigration.
“It cannot be that every country that has a high crime-rate, everybody can enter the country illegally,” Sessions said Tuesday. “Give me a break. Who’s running this country? Aren’t we entitled to have a system of laws? I think so.”
According to Sessions, illegal immigration is on the rise because people in Central America know they will likely not be sent home if they make it to the U.S.
“The number of [border] apprehensions is up more than double from last year,” Sessions said. “In the last 2.5 years we’ve had 127,193 apprehended unaccompanied minors in the United States. That number has risen, in my opinion, because the word got out in Central America, if you came, you would be successful [in staying].”
Sessions, at the hearing, pressed witness Thomas Homan, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official with Enforcement And Removal Operations, about what the result would be if the government was returning 90 percent of the illegal immigrant minors who were apprehended illegally entering the U.S.
“The illegal activity will slow down,” Homan responded.
Sessions argued that the rule of law is under assault by the failure to remove illegal immigrants, but the enticement has also put the illegal immigrant minors in danger.
“It’s causing these children to take undue risks and it violates our law and it’s got to end,” Sessions said.