Report: More than 50,000 illegal immigrants released into U.S. don't show for court hearings

(The Center Square) – More than 50,000 illegal immigrants released into the U.S. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement failed to report to their deportation proceedings during a five-month period analyzed last year, according to a report provided by the Department of Homeland Security to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin. The report also states that ICE doesn’t have court information on more than 40,000 individuals it’s supposed to prosecute.

“Between March and August 2021, as a result of the Biden Administration’s failed border policies, over 270,000 illegal aliens have been dispersed into the United States with little chance for removal,” Johnson said in an announcement accompanying the report, which didn't include data from the other seven months of the year.

Over the same time period, “over 50,000 illegal aliens – more than half of the aliens released into the interior of the United States under a Notice to Report (NTR) – failed to appear to begin deportation proceedings,” the DHS report states.

The data was provided to Johnson, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in response to a letter he sent Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in October after Mayorkas failed to answer his questions during the committee’s hearing last September.

Johnson requested a response by Nov. 2. He got it in January and published it Jan. 11.

Mayorkas apologized for his delayed response, stating, DHS “is committed to ensuring a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system” and “continues to prioritize and allocate critical, limited resources toward the Southwest Border to process noncitizens consistent with applicable legal authorities, including our immigration authorities and public health requirements. This work includes guaranteeing that the rights of all individuals, including noncitizens, are protected while safeguarding the national and border security of the United States and the safety of American communities.”

Under the Trump administration, those seeking to enter the U.S. who show up at a Border Patrol/ICE checkpoint at the southern border were required to remain in Mexico throughout their immigration proceedings. The Biden administration halted the policy, instead allowing illegal immigrants to enter the U.S., receive federal benefits, including Medicaid, housing benefits and food stamps, and enroll their children in public schools, all while they wait for their immigration hearings to be scheduled and then undergo a lengthy immigration proceeding, which could lead to possible deportation.

According to a DHS summary of the process, “When border officials apprehend an illegal alien, they have a number of options if the alien is not detained. DHS officials can place the alien into deportation proceedings and issue them a Notice to Appear (NTA) that specifies a date and time for the alien to appear before an immigration judge. DHS can also, on a case-by-case basis, release the alien on parole and that person could eventually be eligible to work in the United States.

“During the 2021 border crisis, the Biden Administration started using another mechanism to process illegal aliens, the Notice to Report (NTR). When an immigrant receives an NTR, they are told to appear at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office within 60 days to receive an NTA and begin the immigration process.”

Johnson argues the DHS data shows “the practice of issuing NTRs has been an abysmal failure.” He’s also maintained the Biden administration’s failed border policies are endangering Americans.

In the first five months of the NTR process being implemented, from March 21 to August 31, 2021, Border Patrol agents processed 273,396 illegal immigrants and issued 104,171 NTRs, after which they were released into the interior of the U.S.

More than half of those released with NTRs didn’t check-in with ICE: 47,705 in over 60 days; 6,607 within 60 days, according to the report.

Slightly less than half, 49,859, checked-in with ICE: 37,161 within 60 days, and 12,698 over 60 days.

DHS states that between March 21 and Dec. 5, 2021, ICE issued 50,683 NTAs to illegal immigrants in the U.S. who’d been released on an NTR – meaning, they needed to show up to immigration court proceedings or risk deportation.

For over 40,000 of them, ICE has no data on what immigration court is overseeing their cases, DHS reports, even though ICE is responsible for prosecuting the cases in deportation proceedings.

Andrew Arthur at the Center for Immigration Studies said that “in many cases, CBP under the Biden administration has been dispensing with detention, expedited removal, and the issuance of NTAs to illegal migrants and instead simply releasing aliens into the United States with NTRs,” a process he said specifically violates the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Additionally, “There is no statutory authority whatsoever for CBP to release aliens with nothing more than an NTR,” Arthur said.

The data DHS provided Johnson also appears to contradict the testimony Mayorkas gave in September.

In response to a question asked by U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, Mayorkas said “… approximately 75% have indeed reported within the time frame or within their reporting time frame. And as to those who have failed to report that would qualify as an enforcement priority of ours.”

The data show that during the five months analyzed, far fewer than 75% reported to their hearings.

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