41 Percent of Illegal Immigrant Group Biden Admin Released Into US Never Showed Up for Court Dates
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has yet to issue court summons for about 82 percent of the illegal immigrants it allowed into the United States after a federal court ordered a halt on a Biden administration immigration parole program.
In May, Judge T. Kent Wetherell II of Florida’s Northern federal court district issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), blocking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from releasing noncitizens into the United States through the Biden administration’s “Parole with Conditions” (PWC) policy. The PWC policy allowed for illegal immigrants to be paroled into the United States under the expectation that they’d check in with ICE within 60 days and receive a Notice to Appear (NTA), which would initiate court proceedings for them to be removed from the United States.
The state of Florida sued to block the PWC policy, likening it to an immigration “honor system” that doesn’t do enough to follow up with those released into the United States. Despite Judge Wetherell’s restraining order against the policy, DHS officials proceeded to release more than 2,500 of these illegal immigrants into the United States, justifying the decision by saying that these people had already been processed into the PWC system before Judge Wetherell issued his TRO.
Judge Wetherell responded to this release of illegal immigrants with an order for ICE to provide statistics on how many people ultimately received their NTAs to begin removal proceedings. According to court records (pdf) filed in response, ICE revealed that a group of 2,572 illegal immigrants was released after the TRO, and that 1,065 (about 41.4 percent) of them never actually checked in within 60 days to receive their court summons and initiate their removal proceedings.
Of the 1,507 illegal immigrants who did check in with ICE, the agency said it only issued NTAs for 464 individuals (about 18 percent). In total, 2,108 (about 82 percent) of these immigration parolees are either awaiting their NTAs after 60 days or their whereabouts are unknown.
“These statistics are troubling to say the least,” Judge Wetherell wrote on Tuesday (pdf), in response to ICE’s court filings.
DHS Lacks Plan To Track Down Missing Illegal Immigrants: Judge
Judge Wetherell said DHS lacks any apparent plan to track down the approximately 41 percent of PWC parolees who failed to check in with ICE after being released subsequent to his TRO.
“The Court is skeptical that DHS is serious about tracking down the aliens who did not check in as directed or that it will take any action against them if it ever finds them,” Judge Wetherell wrote.
The Judge noted that ICE had similarly failed to provide any commitments to track down PWC parolees who did not report back to begin their removal proceedings. In addition to providing its tracking statistics for the 2,572 illegal immigrants DHS released, an ICE official said the agency “may take an enforcement action against those noncitizens” including issuing arrest warrants for those individuals, placing them in detention, and initiating their removal proceedings.
“Given that the initiation of removal proceedings is what was supposed to happen if the alien had checked in as directed, it is hard to understand why DHS thinks that aliens will take any of its directives seriously if their ‘punishment’ for not doing so ends up being the same thing that would have happened if they complied,” Judge Wetherell wrote.
The PWC program does not include specific measures for tracking its participants. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody had previously challenged an immigration parole program known as Parole Plus Alternatives to Detention (Parole + ATD), which actually included tracking parolees with a variety of body-worn GPS monitors. Judge Wetherell had vacated the Parole + ATD program in March, finding (pdf) that the policy conflicted with requirements in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act that illegal immigrants be detained from when they are apprehended to when their removal proceedings are finalized.
NTD News reached out to the DHS for comment about if and how it intends to keep track of the 2,108 illegal immigrants who have yet to receive their court summons to begin their removal proceedings. The department did not respond by the time this article was published.