DEL RIO, Texas — Recently released migrants in the Del Rio Border Patrol Sector of Texas were spotted panhandling for extra funds to reach their intended destinations in the U.S. this week. News leaked Tuesday that the sector is now releasing migrants without Notices to Appear (NTA) for removal proceedings or formal court dates to alleviate severe overcrowding in detention centers.
A Border Patrol union official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, provided photos of a convenience store where migrants are released and congregate as they determine how to reach their intended inland destinations. Given the fact that local non-governmental organizations’ capacities are already at maximum or are simply unavailable, some migrants are resorting to panhandling the store’s customers.
The union official blames the NTA policy shift. The policy, known as prosecutor discretion, will speed the release of migrants by not issuing NTAs for removal proceedings.
Due to severe overcrowding, the source says Border Patrol agents are now being required to perform mandatory overtime strictly to hasten the release processes.
The move to discontinue the issuance of NTAs mirrors a similar policy in the Rio Grande Valley. 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 trusts migrants to report to an immigration office upon reaching their destination.
The union official complains the catch and release policy in Del Rio and redirection of Border Patrol resources has left some areas of the actual border completely void of patrols.
The source says local law enforcement and Texas Highway Patrol will be assigned to replace Border Patrol agents. “We will be lucky just to be able to transport migrants from the river, if even that,” the source states. “There are some areas of the border that will be wide-open if we don’t get a handle on the flow.”
Del Rio Sector is currently over capacity at most of its detention facilities and stations. The sector now leads the nation in detentions and released nearly 300 migrants into the city of Del Rio on Tuesday.
The Del Rio Sector currently leads the nation in the apprehension of Venezuelan nationals who enter the United States on a near daily basis. The sector also sees demographics beyond Central America. Border Patrol officials believe a reduction in cartel-related violence immediately across the border is the reason Cubans, Haitians, and Congolese choose Del Rio as their crossing point.
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.