- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2022

Homeland Security released more than 100,000 illegal immigrants caught at the border in April, according to new numbers the department provided to a federal judge Monday.

Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees U.S. boundaries, reported nabbing more than 230,000 border jumpers, marking the highest level of illegal activity yet under President Biden.

Experts said that’s the highest rate in history.

About half of those were quickly released, according to the data provided to the court.

About 20,000 others were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the deportation agency, but just 263 of those were actually deported in April, the government said.

Nearly 8,000 more were released into communities, while the rest were still being held at the end of the month.

America First Legal, a conservative group staffed with senior officials from the administration of former President Trump, said when all the border releases are combined dating back to Mr. Biden’s early days in office, nearly 1 million migrants have now been caught and released into the country.

“These numbers are a stark depiction of how Biden has thrown open America’s borders,” said Stephen Miller, president of AFL and an architect of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

The new filings came as part of an ongoing court case over the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which the Trump administration used to solve the previous border surge in 2019.

Mr. Biden had his administration cancel the policy upon taking office, but a judge said too many corners were cut. The judge has ordered the administration to revive the program, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols.

The Supreme Court heard oral argument on the case last month, and is pondering what to do.

One key element of the case is the government’s insistence that it has little choice but to catch and release people. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the Remain in Mexico program is too cruel, and the government argues it doesn’t have detention space to hold people.

But the new data shows the government is leaving many of its detention beds empty.

ICE reported having a capacity of 28,933 beds on the average day in April, but was filling just 19,815 of those. That meant nearly a third of all ICE beds went unused for the month.

The government’s lawyer had indicated to the justices during oral argument last month that Homeland Security was using the detention space for which Congress has paid.

But she conflated CBP’s processing space at the border — the equivalent of a police station’s holding tank — with ICE’s detention beds, which are more akin to a county jail.

Experts say it’s the ICE space that determines whether illegal immigrants can be held for deportation, or have to be released.

According to the new ICE data, CBP turned over 19,611 illegal immigrants caught at the southern border in April. Of those, just 263 were deported.

CBP nabbed a total of 234,088 unauthorized border crossers in April.

Mark Morgan, former head of CBP in the Trump administration, called it “the worst border crisis in American history.”

“This administration inherited the most secure border in American history, and knowingly — willfully — choose instead to spark a crisis that has caused chaos and devastation not just at our border, but throughout our country,” Mr. Morgan said.

Curiously, the Border Patrol’s apprehensions between ports of entry ticked down to 201,800 in April, down from nearly 210,000 in March.

But the number of unauthorized migrants showing up at ports of entry and demanding entry soared to more than 32,000.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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