Over 80,000 immigrants released into El Paso with border facilities at max capacity

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Over 80,000 immigrants released into El Paso with border facilities at max capacity

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AUSTIN, Texas — The city of El Paso has been inundated with more than 80,000 noncitizens who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and were released from federal custody and into its community in nearly four months.

According to all the data that are publicly available from the city, the 678,000 residents of El Paso have seen 84,082 immigrants released into their town between Aug. 22 and Dec. 11. Immigrants were permitted to remain in the United States pending court hearings years down the road. Federal law enforcement agencies Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement made the releases.

Between Dec. 5-11, exactly 6,950 people were released. Since Monday, federal officials have let 5,732 people into the U.S. by way of El Paso.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, a Democrat, told reporters at a press conference Thursday that the city’s assistance for released immigrants and the federal government’s funding of $8 million to reimburse nonprofit groups and the city was “a band-aid to a bigger problem.” Leeser continued to refuse to declare an emergency.

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The number of releases has surged recently because more immigrants have come over the border. Limited detention space means federal officials must release people, sometimes directly on the street in an unfamiliar city or town, at a faster rate to make room for more people being arrested.

The number of illegal immigrants taken into custody in El Paso was higher Wednesday than the average over the past record-setting seven days, a sign the situation is continuing to grow direr.

Internal CBP information obtained by the Washington Examiner late Thursday states that Border Patrol agents in El Paso apprehended 2,587 immigrants the previous day.

CBP data shared by the city of El Paso state that an average of 2,442 immigrants have been apprehended over the past week.

Along the entire southern border, including ports of entry, 9,182 immigrants were encountered trying to enter the U.S. without authorization. It is an astronomical figure compared to the “1,000” number that former President Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson considered to be “bad.”

As apprehensions continue to rise, so does the number of people in federal custody.

Border Patrol facilities in the El Paso region were 162% overcapacity Wednesday, forcing federal police to process and release immigrants quickly at the front doors of nonprofit groups in the community or directly on the streets downtown.

Along the entire 2,000-mile southern border, more than 13,700 noncitizens were in custody Wednesday. Of that figure, roughly one-third, or 4,679, completed processing, allowing them to be released or removed from the country.

The largest short-term migrant detention center in El Paso, Border Patrol’s Central Processing Center, was completed in 2020 under the Trump administration to provide backup holding space in the case of a mass migration event in the region. Earlier this week, it was at full capacity, with 1,040 people inside and another 700 sleeping outside overnight.

The challenge for Border Patrol has been encountering larger numbers of immigrants and only being able to fingerprint and interview so many people per day.

The rising numbers have the potential to create a log jam in the system and are especially concerning given the forthcoming termination of a pandemic public health policy that immigrants in Mexico are waiting to end on Dec. 20. When the Title 42 policy concludes, border officials will no longer be able to send back across the border immigrants from certain countries immediately, forcing them to take even more people into custody.

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Immigrants who come over the border between ports of entry where vehicles are inspected are not required to claim asylum in order to be released into the country. Immigrant advocates have defended immigrants who cross illegally on the basis that they may seek asylum at any time prior to being removed from the country.

Even so, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) told CNN on Wednesday that the large majority of asylum-seekers fail to meet the threshold for protection. Nearly 90% of asylum claims are denied by federal judges on the basis that the person was not being persecuted or in fear of persecution back home.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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