The Border Patrol released 50 recently apprehended migrants here Tuesday, the first of several hundred border-crossers who officials say will soon be freed because there is no room to hold them.
Normally, the Border Patrol would transfer the migrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be “processed” and in many cases placed in detention facilities. But officials said that both agencies have run out of space due to a recent influx of Central American families.
Immigrant advocates suggested the release was intended to create chaos at the border and further President Donald Trump’s argument that there is a national emergency there.
“Why do this now? It doesn’t make sense,” said Zenen Jaimes Perez, advocacy director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, which sent lawyers to the McAllen bus station to assist the migrants. “This is not something they’ve done before.”
He pointed out that the federal government has dealt with bigger influxes of migrants in the recent past.
A Border Patrol official — who spoke on the condition that he not be identified — denied that the release was a political stunt and said that crowding the facilities would threaten the safety of agents and migrants.
“It is a crisis,” he said. “It’s not a self-proclaimed crisis.”
Trump administration moves to relieve overcrowding in facilities as immigration surges
California is calling in the National Guard for the first time next month to help protect communities from devastating fires like the one that largely destroyed the city of Paradise last fall.
It’s pulling the troops away from President Donald Trump’s border protection efforts and devoting them to fire protection, another area where Trump has been critical of California’s Democratic officials — even repeatedly threatening to cut off federal disaster funding.
Starting in April, 110 California National Guard troops will receive 11 days of training in using shovels, rakes and chain saws to help thin trees and brush, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Mike Mohler said.
They will be divided into five teams that will travel around the state working on forest management projects, mainly clearing or reducing trees and vegetation in an effort to deprive flames of fuel.
“They will be boots on the ground doing fuels projects alongside CalFire crews,” Mohler said. “We’ve had them out for flood fighting, several different operations, but this would be the first time their mission would be fuels thinning and forest management.”
The White House is strongly condemning New York City after it says sanctuary city policies led to the release of an illegal immigrant who later bit off the finger of an ICE agent trying to apprehend him.
“New York’s dangerous ‘sanctuary’ policies are directly responsible for the egregious and violent harm suffered by this courageous ICE officer,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement to The Daily Caller.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman explained to The Daily Caller that Dominican national Christopher Santos Felix “entered the United States on a visitor’s visa in June 2015, but failed to leave within the required timeframe.” Felix then racked up a litany of criminal charges, including driving while intoxicated, before he was arrested for assault by the New York City Police Department on Sept. 29, 2018.
The ICE spokeswoman continued that they requested a detainer be put on Felix so that he could be taken into federal custody, but as a result of New York City’s sanctuary city policies, he was then let go.
“On March 3, 2019, Santos Felix was arrested by ERO for immigration violations. At the time of the arrest, Santos Felix allegedly assaulted an ERO officer and is now facing federal prosecution,” the spokeswoman said.