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Border Patrol Told To Release Illegal Immigrants Without Court Dates, Even Without Contact Info

Rio Grande Valley, TX – Border Patrol agents at the center of the colossal surge of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border have been authorized to start releasing undocumented families and adults before they’ve been given dates for court appearances.

An internal document acquired by NBC News said the decision was “intended to mitigate operational challenges, including risks to national security, during significant surges of illegal migration as currently exist in the Rio Grande Valley.”

The document said the goal is to reduce the amount of time undocumented immigrants spend in custody.

Some of the illegal immigrants being released told NBC News that they were released without knowing how they would be contacted by authorities about a court date.

But releasing an undocumented immigrant into the United States before they’ve been given a date for an immigration hearing is a deviation from what has been standard Customs and Border Protection (CBP) policy.

CBP usually issues “notices to appear” to all migrants before they are either released or transferred into U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody for detention, NBC News reported.

The internal document from CBP authorized border agents in the Rio Grande Valley to release undocumented immigrants without appearance dates if facilities meet certain criteria.

The criteria included the detention facility reaching 100 percent capacity.

The document said border agents could release undocumented adults and families into the United States when the Border Patrol facilities in a sector are at 75 percent capacity and the number of people being taken into custody exceeded the number being released for a 24-hour period, according to NBC News.

As of last Sunday, 5,175 people were in custody in the Rio Grande Valley in a facility that has a maximum capacity of 715 people, NBC News reported.

Several undocumented immigrants who had been released said border agents asked them for contact information and told them they would be contacted within 30 days.

They said they had been given paperwork that said their appearance dates were “to be determined,” NBC News reported.

But other undocumented immigrants said they weren’t asked for contact information and were given paperwork to show to local authorities if they were stopped.

The internal document didn’t specify whether border agents were collecting contact information for all illegal immigrants before they were released or how they were supposed to contact the ones who didn’t provide a way to contact them, NBC News reported.

A CBP spokeswoman said that the U.S. border remained closed to families and single adults but that Mexico didn’t have the capacity to take back all the families that had illegally crossed into the United States, so some of them were being released into this country.

“In some cases, families are placed in removal proceedings further along in the release process rather than while they are at the Border Patrol station,” the CBP spokeswoman said. “All families, however, are screened at the Border Patrol station, including the collection of biographical and biometric information and criminal and national security records checks.”

NBC News reported that Border Patrol apprehended 1,807 illegal immigrants travelling as families last Friday but only sent 179 of them back to Mexico.

The internal document said that under no circumstances would undocumented juveniles be released from custody before they were connected with family members or another appropriate sponsor vetted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

But undocumented adults and families may be released into the United States without court dates if the number of unaccompanied minors in custody exceeds 50 percent of the facility’s capacity and the undocumented children can’t be placed with HHS within 48 hours, according to NBC News.

The internal document told agents not to release anyone who posed a risk to public safety or national security.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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