Top border officials in Washington, D.C. have decided to authorize all Border Patrol Sectors to begin the mass releases of migrants to city streets if Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and non–governmental organizations (NGOs) are overcapacity.
This decision comes amid a surge of migrants across the border that has seen over 10,000 people cross each day this week. NGOs are already reaching their limits on capacity, and those numbers are expected to only get worse in the coming days when the Title 42 policy, which allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants due to the COVID–19 pandemic, expires.
The decision is in line with an internal memo published in May 2022 by Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, which outlined guidance for releasing migrants when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is unable to accept them due to a lack of space. The memo states that releases should be conducted in the vicinity of NGOs that can provide further services and should be done “in a safe, humane, and orderly manner.” The memo also outlines what should happen if NGO space is not available, saying releases should be made “at ‘hubs’ where noncitizens have access to services offered by NGOs, transportation hubs, and/or other safe locations.”
The guidance was brought to light during legal proceedings initiated by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody last year, and Ortiz was asked about the memo during a July 28, 2022 deposition. Since then, a federal judge has blocked a separate policy that saw migrants being released through a process called “Parole + ATD [Alternatives to Detention].”
Moody’s chief of staff this week sought to check whether those releases reported by Fox News were taking place under an alternative policy. A DOJ attorney from the Office of Immigration Litigation responded by saying that DHS has said the releases will be occurring “pursuant to the policy described in the May 19, 2022, memorandum from [Ortiz]…”
In response to this news, Moody said that it shows DHS intends to “stand down“ amid the surge in migration and that “Americans need to know that this crisis is about to kick into overdrive, and it is because of the deliberate dismantling of our public–safety immigration structures that Biden and [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas have been attacking since day one in office.”
Meanwhile, Mayorkas said Wednesday there is a plan in place to deal with the surge in migration, but blamed the coming chaos on inaction by Congress.
“I cannot overemphasize that our current situation is the outcome of Congress leaving a broken, outdated immigration system in place for over two decades, despite unanimous agreement that we desperately need legislative reform. It is also the result of Congress‘ decision not to provide us with the resources we need and that we requested,” he said.
As the surge of migrants across the border continues, Americans will be watching to see how the mass releases of migrants to city streets will affect the country. Only time will tell if the DHS’ decision to authorize all Border Patrol Sectors to begin the releases is the right move or not.