Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (D) last week slammed the Biden administration’s re-instated “catch-and-release” policy, which he says is responsible for more than 15,300 illegal aliens being released into the United States without a formal immigration court date.
“It’s just a [sic] honor system that they are given and this is not the way it’s supposed to be,” Cuellar told Border Report.
According to Cuellar, the Biden administration could have “repurposed” the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
“There are ways to address this issue. The reason I think the Biden administration said that they didn’t want to implement, or the reason they got rid of the MPPs, is because they were worried about the safety of those individuals,” the congressman explained on Fox News. “But, you know, you can use the U.N. in so many ways. The U.N. can be used to provide safety for the individuals. We use that all over the country so that the MPP can be repurposed in a safe way if there were concerns.”
Instead of doing away with the Trump administration’s agreement with the Northern Triangle countries – Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras – the Biden administration established their own with Guatemala and Mexico. Cuellar believes the Biden administration could have “repurposed” what was already established and implemented.
“[The Biden administration] could have just repurposed that agreement from the very beginning, cut off the flow of people coming in because I worry about all those folks coming in through the hands of the coyotes, through criminals, which is a very criminal, a very, very dangerous being in the hands of those criminals,” Cuellar explained.
The number of illegal aliens flocking to the United States has Border Patrol overwhelmed. The agency is expediting releases due to the sheer volume of crossing and apprehensions, as well as concerns over the spread of COVID. Current “operational policy,” according to Border Report, allows agents the discretion to “sometimes deviate from normal processes depending upon the circumstances,” meaning an illegal alien can be handed an I-385 Alien Booking Record card and released.
When the individuals are released into the interior of the U.S., they are provided with Notice to Appear (NTA) documents. The illegal alien is required to appear at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office nearest to them within 60 days. At that point, they are to receive “further instructions.” NTA documents also indicate the illegal alien has to appear at an ICE office within 90 days so they can see an immigration judge. The problem, according to Cuellar, is “many won’t understand that and will get lost in the system.” Some may not have a chance at asylum because they did not appear before an immigration judge.
“They’re not put into the immigration system where they’re supposed to go before a judge,” Cuellar said. “It will be interesting to see how many of those (issued) 385s are going to show up,” the congressman told Border Report.
The number of illegal aliens crossing the border continues to skyrocket month after month, with a record number of unaccompanied minors making the trek to the U.S. Last month, more than 13,000 unaccompanied minors were being held in Border Patrol facilities.
Russell Hott, a senior ICE official, in March warned about a 20-year high in the number of unaccompanied minors and families that are crossing the border.
According to Congressman Cuellar, the surge of illegal immigrants needs to be addressed with “common-sense solutions.”
If CBP expects more apprehensions this year than at any point in the past 2 decades, we need to create common-sense solutions that will address the current surge of migration.
— Rep. Henry Cuellar (@RepCuellar) April 23, 2021
The legislation Cuellar introduced alongside Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-TX) and Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-CA) would “establish four new centers to process migrants,” The Texas Tribune reported. The bill would also speed up the process for asylum cases to be heard.