Around 3 in 10 illegal alien families apprehended in the United States from Mexico cut off their ankle monitoring devices shortly after being released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and told to show up for asylum hearings, an ICE official reported.
“Nearly 3 in 10 family units are cutting off their ankle bracelets at the beginning of the process when they’ve been released from our custody within days or weeks so they’re not even going to get to that point where they could get the final removal order,” Matthew Albence, executive associate director for ICE, testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Albence said the Homeland Security Department’s inability to get all illegal aliens released from custody and told to appear for court hearings was in part due to people ditching their ankle bracelets and disappearing into the interior of the country.
Illegal aliens waiting to hear if their asylum cases are approved or denied were more likely to keep their monitors in tact and show up for court, but once their cases were denied, they were not likely to show up when a judge would then later order them deported.
“They will comply up until the benefit of complying is not there,” said Albence.
The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, asked Albence how it was monitoring illegal aliens whose asylum requests were denied and they were to be deported.
Albence said the ankle monitoring program, known as Alternatives to Detention, was being used at much lower rates among those who applied for asylum, were denied, and ordered deported. McCaskill was upset ICE focused more on monitoring asylum applicants than those who posed a threat by not showing up to court and broke the law by evading deportation orders.
“It reminds me of how we got people to court when they were charged with a crime. And we would never dream of after the jury had found them guilty and they were sentenced, we would never dream of deciding that would be the least intensive time of monitoring,” McCaskill said. “We ought to figure out a way to make court appearances more likely.”
Those whose asylum claims are denied may appeal the ruling within 30 days. McCaskill said “they could be monitored” for that time to ensure they are picked up for removal if the appeal fails.
But Albence said his agency lacks the money, personnel, and resources to actually go after noncriminal offenders who have been ordered deported.
“ICE has not been given resources to go out and effectuate these at-large arrests in many years,” he said.
Meanwhile, a surge in supposed “families” coming to the U.S. illegally contributed to an increase of illegal crossings from Mexico in August following two months of declines, authorities said Wednesday.
The number of family arrivals reached 15,955, a sharp increase from July that Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said was one of the highest on record. Supposed “families” accounted for more than one-third of people who were stopped at the border.
McAleenan blamed “legal loopholes,” including a court order that generally prohibits holding children more than 20 days. He called the increase in family arrivals “a direct response to gaps in the legal framework.”
“We’re not surprised by it, but it’s been a very stark trend,” he said.
Overall, illegal aliens arrested or stopped at the border totaled 46,560, up 17 percent from 39,953 in July and up 52 percent from 30,567 in August 2017. Arrests have risen from July to August in four of the previous five years, indicating seasonal factors may be an influence.
The number of illegal aliens arriving as families increased 30 percent from July to August, outpacing the overall increase.
“It is a crisis of significant proportions from a humanitarian perspective and a security perspective,” McAleenan said.
The numbers offer a glimpse into the impact of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal crossings introduced in April.
The arrest tally is also the latest reminder of how border crossings have shifted over the last decade from predominantly Mexican men to cowardly Central American families and children.
The Border Patrol, which polices official ports of entry, made 37,544 arrests in August, including 12,774 of illegal aliens who pose as families and 4,396 children traveling alone.
Another 9,016 illegal aliens were stopped elsewhere, including 3,181 who came as families and 376 as unaccompanied children.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
September 19th, 2018