Congressional Limits on ICE Detention Capacity Can Impact ‘Caravan Migrants’

TIJUANA, MEXICO - APRIL 29: Members of a caravan of Central Americans who spent weeks traveling across Mexico walk from Mexico to the U.S. side of the border to ask authorities for asylum on April 29, 2018 in Tijuana, Baja California Norte, Mexico. More than 300 immigrants, the remnants of …
David McNew/Getty Images

Members of the “migrant caravan” camping near the U.S. border with Mexico may be impacted by Congressional action taken earlier this year to limit detention bed capacity in immigration processing centers.

Breitbart Texas reached out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to see what impact the $1.3 trillion spending authorization passed by Congress earlier this year has on the agency’s ability to handle the increasing numbers of migrants crossing the border illegally and those seeking asylum.

During FY 2017, congressional appropriations funded space for 39,324 beds, according to information provided to Breitbart Texas by ICE officials. Despite the rapid growth in illegal border apprehensions of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and Family Unit Aliens (FMUA), that capacity was only increased by about 1,200 beds (40,520 total beds).

President Donald Trump has called for an expansion of ICE’s capacity to house migrants who are processing through the agency’s facilities.

“Ensuring there are sufficient beds available to meet the current demand for detention space is crucial to the success of ICE’s overall mission,” the ICE official stated. “Accordingly, the agency is continually reviewing its detention requirements and exploring options that will afford ICE the operational flexibility needed to house the full range of detainees in the agency’s custody.”

“In order to implement Executive Order 13768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, the FY2019 President’s budget request includes nearly $2.8 billion to expand detention capacity to support an average daily adult population of 49,500 and an average daily family population of 2,500, for a total of 52,000 beds.”

Some media outlets reported that immigration enforcement would be a big loser following the passage of the omnibus spending bill earlier this year.

VOX reported:

On enforcement, Republicans went into this week wanting more funding for the Department of Homeland Security to increase the number of beds for immigrant detainees and to expand the enforcement force, with a call to fund 1,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and 500 more Customs and Border Protection officers.

The final compromise included funding for only an additional 328 Customs and Border Protection officers, and ICE will actually have to reduce the number of detention beds. Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of deportation force Trump’s administration was envisioning.

In the past two months, the numbers of UAC and FMUA apprehensions along the nation’s southwestern border with Mexico skyrocketed. The number of UAC apprehensions jumped in March by 33 percent from the previous month — an increase of more than 1,000 minors, Breitbart Texas reported. During the same period, FMUA apprehensions increased by 62 percent – an increase of more than 3,400 minors.

In just these two categories, ICE officials saw an increase in demand for nearly 3,500 additional people. Yet Congress only appropriated 1,200 additional beds for this year.

Then, add in the demand for housing for the hundreds of “caravan migrants” seeking to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. Each of these people will require bed space for up to 20 days as their claim for asylum is evaluated.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials told Breitbart Texas that their ability to process the migrants is dependent on ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations detention centers being able to have enough beds to take them. This forces the delays in admission being experienced by “caravan migrants” at the border.

As of Wednesday afternoon, about 53 migrants from the caravan have been allowed to pass through the San Ysidro Port of Entry and begin their attempt to claim asylum, migrant groups said. This leaves about 200 on the south side of the border.

The announcement by the “migrant caravan” organizers comes on the same day that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he is sending 35 additional prosecutors and 18 immigration judges to help deal with the asylum claims at the border, Breitbart News’ Ian Mason reported.

The additional immigration judges will increase processing capacity by 50 percent. The judges are being relocated from the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).

The additional prosecutors will also help the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California to prosecute any of the migrants who illegally cross the border or who make false claims of “credible fear.”

DOJ officials announced on Tuesday that 11 migrants were charged after they illegally crossed the border, Breitbart Texas reported.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGAB, and Facebook.

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