Photo Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Taken by Yesica Uvina
WHAT: Our immigration system continues to encourage and allow an influx of aliens to illegally cross our borders and resettle in American communities.
Porous borders, legal loopholes, and insufficient immigration enforcement resources allow aliens to illegally cross our borders and often prevent their removal once here. Waves of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) and Family Units have been exploiting these weaknesses in our immigration system for years in order to enter and remain in the country.
Since fiscal year (FY) 2016, more than 107,000 UACs have been released into the interior of the United States. 2,895 UACs were released into the U.S. in February 2018 alone, bringing the total for FY 2018 thus far to 13,186. Once released, most UACs remain here by failing to either show up for court hearings or comply with removal orders. As a result, only 3.5 percent of UACs who are apprehended are eventually removed from the U.S. The surge of UACs entering and remaining in the U.S. is in addition to the more than 167,000 Family Units which were apprehended between FY 2016 and February 2018. Nearly all apprehended family units are also released into the U.S. due to judicially-imposed constraints on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s authority to detain them.
This flow of illegal aliens into American communities stands to only grow as a caravan of hundreds of Central Americans currently traveling through Mexico heads toward the U.S. border.
WHY: Catch and release loopholes encourage more and more illegal immigration into the U.S.
Catch and release loopholes, which are the result of statutory and judicial obstacles, encourage illegal immigration into the U.S. and prevent the removal of aliens once they are here. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can only detain UACs for a few days before releasing them to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for resettlement into the United States. Immigration enforcement efforts are further hamstrung by the fact that current federal law exempts UACs from non-contiguous countries, such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, from being promptly returned to their home countries. This results in nationals from these and other countries entering and never leaving.
Foreign nationals see how easy it is to enter the United States, and how hard it is for federal immigration authorities to remove aliens who enter illegally, and are accordingly drawn to the United States. In the absence of lasting solutions to the problems that riddle our immigration system, we can only expect the flow of illegal immigration into our country to continue.