United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities in El Paso, Texas are at capacity and have announced they will be forced to release nearly 2,000 illegal immigrants.
The Washington Examiner reports Annunciation House, a nonprofit that works alongside ICE to help immigrants released by the immigration agency, said they were told by ICE to expect the release of up to 600 immigrants on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
“The practice of releasing hundreds of immigrants at a time is not unprecedented,” the Washington Examiner also reports as more than two dozen “large groups of 100 to 500” have been apprehended and subsequently released from the El Paso facilities alone since the Fall of 2018.
The forced release of the immigrants has to do with the ICE facilities being overrun and unable to manage the influx of immigrants.
People who have illegally crossed the border are initially taken into custody by Border Patrol, where they are held for up to 72 hours. While in the patrol’s custody, they are interviewed, given medical exams, and a determination is made whether they will be turned over to ICE for immediate deportation.
Many of those who are being arrested at the border are Central American families and children who tell agents they have a “credible fear” of returning home. Due to a 2015 court ruling as part of the Flores settlement, those who move to claim asylum cannot be immediately deported but cannot be held by ICE more than 20 days.
As large groups of families have continued to arrive between border crossings in recent months, the flow of immigrants from Border Patrol stations to ICE detention centers has been overrun.
According to an ICE official who spoke with the Washington Examiner, more than 84,000 migrant family members have been released from federal custody between December 21, 2018 and March 5, 2019.
“The current volume of family units crossing the border combined with limited transportation resources, time restrictions on families in government custody, and finite space at family residential centers have all contributed to the current state of events,” the ICE official said, via the Washington Examiner. “ICE is releasing families to NGOs that provide assistance with immediate basic needs such as temporary shelter, food, water, clothing and transportation services; however, many of these organizations are overwhelmed due to the ongoing influx of families at the border.”
El Paso city spokeswoman Laura Cruz told a local outlet the city cannot legally provide shelter to the 1,800 people set to be released this weekend.
The El Paso Police Department issued a text message to residents Wednesday asking residents to help nonprofit organizations in taking in people.