U.S. Customs and Border Protection released around 2,000 illegal immigrants in southern Texas without giving them notices to show up at an immigration court proceeding in the future, said a Texas Democratic congressman.
“There are some family units that have been returned to Mexico depending on the age of the kids that are with them,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told CBS News on Sunday, adding that while some are returned, “over 2,000 of them have been released into the United States without a notice to appear.”
“I emphasize—without a notice to appear at an immigration court,” he remarked. “They’re supposed to appear, show up, maybe in 60 days, report to an ICE office. This is unprecedented.”
The releases came as Border Patrol facilities are quickly becoming overcrowded in the midst of a surge of people illegally entering the United States from Mexico.
“That’s where the burden of the border communities are felt,” Cuellar said. “The cities, the counties, the NGOs. We’re feeling the brunt of what’s happening with the family units.”
Cuellar released several batches of photos sourced from the Border Patrol overflow facility in Donna, Texas. Last week, on March 21, Cuellar’s office provided photos of throngs of unaccompanied minrs being held in the crowded facility.
A day later, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released photos from the facility, but Cuellar said they were “sanitized,” according to his interview Sunday with Border Report.
“After I put out those pictures they put out sanitized photos and videos,” Cuellar said.
As of Sunday, there are more than 5,000 people who are being detained for processing in the Rio Grande Valley, and around 64 percent are unaccompanied minors, Cuellar told the website.
“Everyday there’s more and more,” he added, saying that drug cartels in Mexico who control the human trafficking operations there are focusing on the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. “In Laredo, it’s totally the reverse, where you have mainly single adults and Del Rio is a totally different make-up. And, as I’ve said before, it’s all by design. It just doesn’t happen. It’s all by design.”
President Joe Biden last week said he would not apologize for rolling back successful immigration policies of his Republican predecessor that he says undermined “human dignity” and brushed off criticism that illegal immigrants were making the journey to the southern border because they perceived him to be a “nice guy.”
Republicans, however, said that it was because of Biden’s executive orders that rescinded several of former President Donald Trump’s policies that led to the surge.
The DHS has been contacted for comment.