150 Illegal Immigrants Stopped at Border, Freed Without Court Dates: Texas Congressman

March 23, 2021 Updated: March 23, 2021

About 150 illegal immigrants were stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border over the weekend by Border Patrol officials and were allowed to continue on their way without a future court date or any notice, said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

“Over the weekend, at [the] Anzalduas area by the bridge, there were about 150 folks [who] got released under what we call ‘prosecutorial discretion,’ because Border Patrol says, ‘We just don’t have the space,’” Cuellar told Border Report on Monday. He was referring to an area near the Rio Grande in his congressional district.

Cuellar said they were “released without even a Notice To Appear, which is, in my opinion, unprecedented that you’re going to release somebody and hope that they show up without a court date.” None of the people who were stopped were unaccompanied children, he said.

“I’m not blaming Border Patrol but to hear they had no choice tells you how critical the situation is down at the border,” said Cuellar, the vice chairman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, according to the outlet.

Cuellar made headlines this week after his office released photos from inside a Border Patrol-operated overflow facility that housed unaccompanied children, showing children and adults sleeping on the floor in cramped quarters. Cuellar told Axios that they were being housed in “terrible conditions” and called on the federal government to release them into the control of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It comes as a surge of illegal immigrants have attempted to cross the border in recent months, coming after President Joe Biden took office. Republicans have criticized Biden for issuing a series of executive orders rescinding Trump-era policies such as the “Remain in Mexico” measure, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, and halted construction of the border wall.

Epoch Times Photo
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) speaks during a rally in Washington on Sept. 12, 2019. (Tom Brenner/Getty Images)

Customs and Border Protection (CPB) also released photos of the Donna facility on Tuesday morning.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the Border Patrol, said that personnel exercise discretion to expedite encounters with illegal immigrants that do not pose a significant threat to the community.

“There is no change in policy: the border remains closed,” DHS said.

“In some cases, families are placed in removal proceedings further along in the release process rather than while they are at the border patrol station. All families, however, are screened at the border patrol station, including the collection of biographical and biometric information and criminal and national security records checks,” the agency said in a statement.

“Families and single adults are being expelled under Title 42 and should not attempt to cross illegally,” the statement further added. “If Mexico does not have capacity to immediately receive an expelled family—and we are working with our partners in Mexico to increase their capacity—the family is tested and quarantined as needed and placed in immigration proceedings to commence its removal from the United States.”

The Epoch Times has contacted DHS for comment.