EXCLUSIVE: West Texas Border Sector Begins ‘Catch and Release’ to Ease Overcrowding, Says Source

Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents apprehend 900 Venezuelan migrants in ten days. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Del Rio Sector)
Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Del Rio Sector

According to a law enforcement source speaking on the condition of anonymity, Border Patrol agents in the Del Rio Sector are now releasing migrants without a “Notice to Appear” (NTA) for removal proceedings or formal court dates to alleviate severe overcrowding in detention centers. The move mirrors protocols instituted in the Rio Grande Valley Sector earlier this year.

The source revealed to Breitbart Texas the plan to commence “catch and release” will begin immediately. The influx of large groups of migrants surging the border has resulted in severe overcrowding at most stations within the sector. Del Rio now leads the nation in detentions.

Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens says he was informed that nearly 300 migrants would be immediately released in Del Rio, Texas. The judge expressed frustration in his statement after receiving word that local non-governmental shelters are already full.

“The individuals that are in charge right now, and the ones that set policy, not the law, are failing us. It’s failed. The policy that we are following today does not work,” the county executive says.

The policy change will impact several cities in west Texas, including Eagle Pass, where most detained migrants within the Del Rio Sector are kept.

The elimination of serving formal notices to appear reduces the time it takes to release the migrants into the United States to mere hours. The change expects migrants to report to an immigration office upon reaching their final destination.

Border Patrol will no longer inform the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) when a migrant is released into the United States. The EOIR is responsible for conducting removal hearings. The move effectively means the migrant will not be removed in absentia for failing to appear at a hearing.

The courts will not know of the case as the NTA is the official charging document to normally begin proceedings. The migrants are expected to self-report.

The source says the change is necessary to deal with the influx of illegal migrants along the border: “This doesn’t seem to be slowing, we don’t have much choice in the matter at this point.”

A newly constructed facility in Eagle Pass designed to hold a maximum 500 migrants has seen levels exceed 700 in recent days. Currently, the sector is detaining nearly 1,500 migrants, leading the country. The Rio Grande Valley sector usually leads the nation in detentions but has fallen to the second-place after instituting “catch and release.”

Del Rio has been the focal point for large groups of Venezuelans in recent months. The sector leads the nation in the arrest of that demographic as well. The source reports more than 400 migrants were arrested in Del Rio last week. The sector is currently detaining nearly 800 Venezuelan nationals.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

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