The Department of Homeland Security released 24,000 foreign family members who crossed through the United States-Mexico border into the U.S. over the course of two weeks this month, Breitbart News has confirmed.
In newly confirmed federal data from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, Breitbart News has learned that the country’s Catch and Release program has resulted in the mass release of border crossers and illegal aliens on a weekly basis.
For months, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have said privately that the Catch and Release program has been taken to new heights, while ICE union officials declared this week that the program was in “overdrive” under the direction of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Between March 5 and March 20, about 24,000 border crossers and illegal aliens have been released into the interior of the U.S. while they await their immigration and asylum hearings. The vast majority of these foreign nationals never appear at their hearings and the overwhelming majority are never deported from the country after release by DHS.
The Catch and Release process often entails federal immigration officials busing border crossers into nearby border cities and dropping them off with the promise that they will show up for their immigration and asylum hearings, sometimes years later.
The data obtained by Breitbart News reveals those 24,000 individuals were released through these areas:
- 2,500 border crossers released in San Diego, California
- 4,000 border crossers released in Phoenix, Arizona
- 7,500 border crossers released in El Paso, Texas
- 10,000 border crossers released in San Antonio, Texas
Overall, in the last three months, 108,500 border crossers and illegal aliens have been released by DHS into the interior of the country. Nearly 50,000 of these border crossers and illegal aliens, alone, were released in the San Antonia area since the beginning of the year.
ICE officials said their detention capacity to detain border crossers and illegal aliens has been strained by the enormous levels of illegal immigrants arriving in the country every month. In a statement to Breitbart News, officials said:
Since December 21, ICE has released approximately 108,500 family members into the interior of the United States; recently, for the first time during the influx, the agency has seen multiple days culminating in over 1,000 individuals released in the Rio Grande Valley alone. The sheer volume of family units (FAMU) crossing the border has overwhelmed ICE’s limited transportation resources; combined with a requirement to detain these individuals for no more than 20 days, the agency has no option but to expeditiously arrange for their release. ICE makes every attempt to coordinate the release of these individuals with NGOs that provide assistance with basic needs, but the heavy influx in recent months has inundated these organizations as well. [Emphasis added]
At this current rate, DHS is releasing more than 36,000 border crossers and illegal aliens into the country every single month. For the year, DHS is on pace to release more than 430,000 border crossers and illegal aliens into the country. This concludes that about half of the illegal aliens apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border are eventually released by DHS into the U.S. where they have a high probability of never being deported.
Federal immigration officials expect the Catch and Release program to be supercharged this year as the Trump administration most recently expanded the program and cut back on ICE detention space.
Current illegal immigration projections predict that aside from the border crossers and illegal aliens who are caught by Border Patrol, then released into the interior of the country, there could be about half a million illegal aliens who successfully cross into the U.S. through the southern border, undetected, this year.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.