The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released at least 1,939 border crossers into the interior of the United States since the beginning of February, federal data obtained by Breitbart News reveals.
After President Joe Biden’s administration restarted the Catch and Release program — where border crossers are apprehended and quickly released into the U.S. interior — the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released 378 migrant families between February 2 and February 8.
Most of these migrant families, 320, were released into communities in San Diego, California, and San Antonio, Texas. None of the border crossers released are required to take tests for the Chinese coronavirus.
The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is also releasing border crossers into the U.S. interior. CBP data reviewed by Breitbart News found that in February, alone, more than 1,560 border crossers have been released into the U.S. interior — a 78,000 percent increase in Catch and Release since October 2020.
The data indicates that CBP has been releasing about 156 border crossers every day since the start of the month, when Biden’s orders ending the Remain in Mexico policy, cooperative asylum agreements with Central America, and new ICE directives cutting immigration enforcement took effect.
Nearly all, more than 95 percent, of border crossers being released are located in the Del Rio, Texas, and Rio Grande Valley, Texas, regions.
Like the border crossers released by ICE, border crossers released by CBP are not required to undergo testing for the coronavirus.
A source at the agency who spoke to Breitbart News anonymously said that while DHS has ordered coronavirus tests for border crossers and illegal aliens in their custody, deployment is being slowed. The source said that if a border crosser tests positive for coronavirus while in DHS custody, U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for their treatment.
Still, DHS has not implemented any rules that require coronavirus testing for border crossers and illegal aliens in their custody.
Most significant is the rate at which Biden’s unraveling of border controls has led to a surge of border crossers being released into the U.S. interior. For instance, according to the data reviewed by Breitbart News, between October and December 2020, CBP had only released 18 border crossers into the U.S. interior.
In January 2021, the number of border crossers released by CBP had skyrocketed to nearly 880 — a 4,800 percent increase in Catch and Release.
The data directly contradicts statements made by White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday, in which she claimed that releases of border crossers into the U.S. interior were in “incredibly narrow and limited circumstances.”
“Some migrants are processed for removal, provided a notice to appear and wait within the U.S. to await an immigration hearing,” Psaki said, confirming that Catch and Release is occurring with no requirements for border crossers to take coronavirus tests.
The surge of Catch and Release in the first month of the Biden administration has coincided with a record number of border crossers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Border apprehensions last month increased nearly 160 percent compared to the same time last year. In total, more than 75,000 border crossers were apprehended last month — the highest number of border crossers in the month of January since 2006. Thousands more likely were able to enter the U.S. illegally, undetected by federal immigration officials.
DHS did not respond to a request for comment at the time of this publication.
UPDATE: In a statement provided to Breitbart News after the publication of this story, CBP officials seemingly confirmed that border crossers are being released into the U.S. with no coronavirus testing requirements before their release.
“CBP has seen a steady increase in border encounters since April 2020, which, aggravated by COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, has caused some facilities to reach maximum safe holding capacity,” a CBP spokesperson said in a statement. “Per longstanding practice, when long-term holding solutions aren’t possible, some migrants will be processed for removal, provided a Notice to Appear, and released into the U.S. to await a future immigration hearing. As the Administration reviews the current immigration process, balancing it against the ongoing pandemic, we will continue to use all current authorities to avoid keeping individuals in a congregate setting for any length of time.”
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter here.