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A Democratic congresswoman is sending staff to Mexico’s northern border town of Ciudad Juárez to find migrants returned from El Paso, Texas, under the “remain in Mexico” policy, then coaching them to pretend they cannot speak Spanish to exploit a loophole letting them to return to the U.S.

The National Border Patrol Council’s El Paso chapter and several Customs and Border Protection personnel told the Washington Examiner aides to Rep. Veronica Escobar, who took over 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s district, and the local Catholic diocese have interviewed thousands of migrants in Juarez over the past few weeks to find cases where Department of Homeland Security officials may have wrongly returned people.

“What we believe is happening is Veronica Escobar’s office is going … to basically second-guess and obstruct work already done by the Border Patrol,” said one senior union official, who shared evidence with the Washington Examiner from concerned CBP managers and rank-and-file members. Those documents have been held to protect identities.

Under the bilateral Migration Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” policy, anyone returned must be fluent in Spanish because they may have to reside in Mexico up to five years until a U.S. federal judge decides their asylum claim. A Democratic politician’s aides reescorting people back to the port are telling officers the Central American individual with them cannot speak Spanish despite their having communicated in it days earlier, CBP officials said.

“What we’re hearing from management is that they’re attempting to return people, and the story was changed in Mexico, where a person who understood Spanish before now doesn’t understand — where a person who didn’t have any health issues before now has health issues,” the union representative said.

Escobar’s team has sought interviews with 6,000 people who were returned last month, according to one CBP official. The union learned from an intelligence unit within CBP that those doing the interviews are wearing recording devices during the interviews to tape conversations and possibly listen back later.

“They went through and interviewed everybody, cherry-picked them, brought them back, and now are using them as tag lines. They’re going over there and manufacturing a lot of these issues,” said the union official.

All three border officials worried the interviews might be used to suggest the Border Patrol is wrongfully turning away a large number of asylum-seekers.

“We had finally found a happy medium ‘cause we always get crapped on when it comes to immigration laws, and then they’re finding loopholes to bring them back,” the second official said.

Mark H. Metcalf, a former federal immigration judge during the George W. Bush administration, said the involvement of Escobar’s office was likely “more of a stunt than a genuine threat to the integrity of the process.”

“She’s trying to obviously say these people have been wrongly denied their claims and they’re waiting when they shouldn’t be,” said Metcalf.

However, he said a criminal case would exist if Escobar were found to be complicit in an effort to perpetrate a fraud, which would have to include knowingly injecting false statements during interviews, follow-up conversations, and documents presented to U.S. officials.

A Department of Homeland Security official aware of the situation said Democrats, nonprofit organizations, and 2020 hopefuls “are furious that these migrants” are not permitted to “await their court dates in the U.S., where they have the opportunity to disappear and slip into the interior never to be seen again.”

“By opposing a system that assists migrants and speeds wait times, these individuals are exposing a cause that looks more like a cover story for their political motivations. Any efforts to subvert and obstruct federal law enforcement operations should receive a full review,” the Homeland Security official said in a text.

In one incident, an Escobar aide and diocese official walked a male migrant over the bridge in June and asked for him to be admitted into the U.S. because they had found he had “cognitive disabilities.” Officers took the boy and turned the case over to the Border Patrol, where an agent found a Constituent Information and Privacy Release Form with the U.S. House of Representatives seal on it inside the 17-year-old’s file. Two officials said the paper would have to have been put in his file while he was interviewed in Mexico and was not supposed to have been left there because it would reveal to the Border Patrol that a member of Congress or their staff was meeting with migrants in Mexico.

The boy has since returned to Mexico because the medical condition was not diagnosed by a medical professional but by an aide of the congresswoman, one official said Friday.

“Management saw that form and was like, ‘What is this?’ and reached out to our International Liaison Unit. And ILU said, ‘Yes, Veronica Escobar and several other politicians are in Mexico trying to defeat the MPP program,'” the union said.

Officials only discussed one port of entry in El Paso but said they knew of three other incidents where Escobar’s aides had walked back a “Remain in Mexico” program recipient.

In another confirmed case, a female migrant was brought back to the port after claiming to have been raped in Juarez.

The union official said the onslaught of interviews suggests federal resources are being misspent.

“Resources are being diverted into a foreign country in an attempt to reverse already-decided legal action, meaning these people were found inadmissible under a new program and they must remain in Mexico. They’re trying to subvert that,” the official said.

Author: Anna Giaritelli

Source: Washington Examiner: Democratic congresswoman secretly sending staff into Mexico to coach asylum-seekers

The Trump administration expects to arrest and release into the interior of the country 650,000 unauthorized immigrants by the end of the fiscal year, making it the largest number in a single year.

President Trump’s acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mark Morgan, shared Tuesday that the administration now expects to release into the interior of the U.S. around two-thirds of the 1 million people it anticipates Border Patrol will arrest at the southern border between last October and September.

“We’re anticipating a million this year, but we’re going to allow 65% of those individuals into the interior of the United States,” said Morgan.

Morgan said Customs and Border Protection personnel encountered 109,000 people at the U.S.-Mexico border during the month of May. Roughly two-thirds were traveling with an immediate family member and are not candidates for immediate deportation whereas single adults from Mexico would be.

Because ICE can only hold families up to 20 days due to a 2015 court ruling, all families must be released from custody and are free to travel to any part of the U.S., including those who have not applied for asylum.

The number of families coming to the U.S. illegally has shot up six-fold in the first six months of fiscal 2019 compared to the same time span last year. From October through April, 248,000 family members were taken into custody compared to 49,000 last year. With ICE unable to hold everyone even for 20 days at a time, the agency has been forced to release hundreds of thousands into communities.

Speaking to a group of reporters at ICE headquarters in Washington, Morgan said the change in demographic of illegal immigrants is making this the “worst” border crisis the Department of Homeland Security has ever seen, including when 1.6 million were encountered at the southern border in the mid-2000s.

“I believe that this is the worst in modern times that we’ve experienced because of the demographic issue,” said Morgan. “That being the family units and unaccompanied minors that are coming across illegally.”

“Sometimes people want to say, ‘The numbers back in the late ’90s and early 2000s were a little bit higher.’ But the reason for that, right, those were mainly single adult males and we were expediting the removals of those individuals.”

Morgan, who served for a brief stint at U.S. Border Patrol chief at the tail end of former President Barack Obama’s second term, said 90% of single adult men from Mexico were deported within hours of being apprehended. That involved Border Patrol encountering them, taking them to a local station, processing them, then transporting them to ICE, which would then process and transport them back to Mexico.

“That’s why this crisis, I believe, is much worse than we’re experienced in modern times,” he said.

In recent months, Border Patrol and ICE figures have continually reached new records as more people arrive at the southern border each month.

Morgan said referred to a comment then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson made a decade ago to give context to current apprehension levels.

“When I was back as chief of the U.S. Border Patrol in 2016 — and former Secretary Jeh Johnson has been on the record saying this — a bad day for him was a thousand [arrests]. And I know that and remember that ’cause that was a bad day for me,” said Morgan. “They’re looking at 4,500 a day along the southwest border. Again, those numbers are unprecedented.”

Last week, Border Patrol agents from the El Paso, Texas, region encountered a single group of more than 1,000 people. Up until then, the largest group of illegal immigrants ever encountered at one time was around 430 people, which also took place in May.

Author: Anna Giaritelli

Source: Washington Examiner: 1M will illegally cross the border this year, 65% will be released into US, officials say

Nearly 100,000 people were taken into custody along the southern border in April after illegally crossing from Mexico into the United States, marking the highest number in one month since April 2007, according to new federal data.

Department of Homeland Security numbers show U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California apprehended 98,977 people who crossed between ports of entry in areas that do and do not have barriers.

A total 109,144 people were encountered at the border in April. On top of the 99,000 unauthorized crossings, another 10,000 people attempted to pass through border crossings but were turned away.

Roughly 60% of that figure — 58,474 — were families and 9% — 8,897 — were unaccompanied children. The remaining 31,606 people arrested were single adults, likely unable to claim a credible fear of return and apply for asylum like the families.

April’s numbers are up from 103,000 in March — 92,600 people who illegally crossed the southern border and nearly 11,000 people encountered by federal police approaching ports of entry but turned away, including asylum seekers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The number of people who were taken into custody for attempting to enter between border crossings nearly doubled from approximately 46,000 in January. They had dropped significantly during the first few months President Trump was in office, down to less than 16,000 illegal entries and turn aways at ports of entry.

However, those numbers have shot up since October. Customs and Border Protection officials have blamed human smugglers for flooding certain parts of the border with migrants and said those paying up to $8,000 to get to the U.S., primarily from Central America, are doing so because they know they will not be held in federal custody for more than a few weeks, due to U.S. policies.

Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency to Border Patrol, said the number of people being turned away at official border crossings has remained consistent in recent months, but the number of families traveling to the U.S. from Central America continues to rise.

In the first six months of the 2019 fiscal year, the number of people who arrived at the border with a family member was up 370% from the same period a year ago. Around 60% of all people who illegally crossed in fiscal 2019 were families compared to the 1990s and 2000s when the large majority were single adult men from Mexico who re-entered several times in a year.

In fiscal 2019, more than 100 groups of 100 or more people have shown up at the border, crossing at spots of the 1,900 mile-long boundary that have little or no fencing.

In fiscal 2017, Customs and Border Protection documented two groups of 100 people or more. The number of group apprehensions jumped to 13 in 2018.

The Rio Grande Valley of eastern Texas; the El Paso Sector, which includes all of New Mexico; and the Tucson region of Arizona have seen the most apprehensions since October.

Author: Anna Giaritelli

Source: Washingtonexaminer: Border crisis worsens: 100,000 border crossers arrested in April, highest since 2007

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told lawmakers Wednesday she expects the department to apprehend 900,000 illegal immigrants at the border this year, both between ports of entry and at border crossings.

“Our nation is facing a dire humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” Nielsen told the House Homeland Security Committee. “The agency is now on track to apprehend more migrants crossing illegally in the first six months of this fiscal year than the entirety of FY17.”

“The total number we’re on track for — 900,000 apprehensions this year,” she said.

Slightly more than 310,000 people were arrested for illegally crossing into the U.S. in all of 2017. Another 216,000 were turned away at ports for lacking legal documents to enter.

From October through January, approximately 60,000 people each month were either arrested after illegally crossing or after trying to cross at a border crossing point without legal permission.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday more than 76,000 people were encountered in February, making it the largest monthly number in 12 years.

In 2018, a total 683,000 undocumented immigrants tried to illegally enter the U.S. at ports or between border crossings.

CBP said Tuesday they expect the numbers to continue spiking this spring. During President Trump’s first few months in office, monthly apprehensions dipped to 17,000 people.

Author: Anna Giaritelli

Source: Washingtonexaminer: US on track to apprehend 900,000 people at border this year: Nielsen

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