A staggering 87% of migrant families who crossed the border in recent months are failing to show up for their deportation hearings, a top ICE official told Congress on Wednesday.
Nathalie R. Asher, the acting chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deportation branch, said those numbers come from a new pilot program in 10 cities where her agency has tried to speed hearings for new migrant families that have shown up at the border this fiscal year.
ICE and the Justice Department tested out a last-in, first-out model in the pilot program, hoping to see if faster deportations could stem the flow of migrant families.
Instead they found a massive rate of people ignoring their obligations, Ms. Asher testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Family units are not appearing in great numbers,” she said.
If they don’t appear for their hearings they are ordered deported in absentia — though the government has few resources to go out and track them down, leaving almost all of them free in communities.
Democrats bristle at ICE’s numbers.
Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said he had numbers suggesting that most asylum-seekers were showing up for hearings — particularly if they had lawyers.
“They want to have an adjudication. They’re hoping they can stay here legally,” he said.