U.S. Customs and Border Patrol on Tuesday released 50 migrants recently detained at the border near Mcallen, Texas due to a lack of space in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers they would otherwise be sent to while awaiting their asylum hearings.
CPB officials told the Los Angeles Times that the migrants released Tuesday represent just the first wave of a group of hundreds whom they will be forced to release in the coming days due to a lack of resources.
Border Patrol spokesman Carlos Diaz said the 50 migrants were given notices to appear in court and released to local charities after their processing center in McAllen was overwhelmed by the number of migrants arriving each day.
“It is a crisis,” an unnamed CPB official told the Times. “It’s not a self-proclaimed crisis.”
The unnamed official’s assessment of the situation at the border echoes those of President Trump and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who have raised alarms in recent months about the particular challenges posed by the high numbers of Central American families arriving at the border every day.
“In February, we saw a 30 percent jump over the previous month, with agents apprehending or encountering nearly 75,000 aliens,” Nielsen told the House Committee on Homeland Security earlier this month. “This is an 80 percent increase over the same time last year. And I can report today that CBP is forecasting the problem will get even worse this spring as the weather warms up.”
“Over 60 percent of the current flow are family units and unaccompanied alien children, and 60 percent are non-Mexican,” she added, likely referencing the provision in U.S. immigration law that requires asylum-seekers native to non-contiguous countries be allowed to remain in the U.S. while their asylum applications are adjudicated.