Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Internal Memo Reveals High-Level Dissent on Border Surge Policies

A draft memo from a top Border Patrol official expresses alarm that the administration's handling of the border surge in south Texas is inviting more illegal crossings and overwhelming the DHS agencies. The memo calls for the administration to stop releasing illegal crossers into the United States and instead impose harsher "consequences" on illegal crossers. The document, attributed to Ronald D. Vitiello, deputy chief of the Border Patrol, includes revised estimates from the DHS statistics office on the size of the surge of unaccompanied minors. At the end of May, DHS projected that in FY 2014, the Border Patrol would catch more than 90,000 minors crossing without parents (up from the previous estimate of 74,000). DHS projects that this surge will increase still further in 2015, to 142,000 (up from the previous projection of 114,000). Although the administration has discussed the surge almost exclusively in terms of an influx of children travelling alone, there are also reports that in fact unaccompanied minors represent only about one-third of the flow. Again today in a press conference call, senior administration officials claimed to have no figures available on the number of family units who have been apprehended. The administration has stated that most of the unaccompanied children and families are from Central America. Unlike the illegal crossers who are apprehended along other parts of the southwest border, who are either returned quickly or detained for a short time to face charges under the "consequences delivery" strategy, the Central American crossers are being sheltered for a time by the U.S. government, and then released into the country to await deportation proceedings at some future time. According to the memo, only 3 percent of the non-Mexicans apprehended are being returned to their home country. One reason given is because certain Central American countries will not allow repatriation flights on weekends. Vitiello warns in his memo that the government's failure to penalize illegal crossers simply provides an incentive for even more people to try. He writes that the current practice of releasing Central American families, asylum applicants, and non-criminals, and reuniting unaccompanied minors with family members in the United States will result in increases in new crossing attempts and recidivists. "To stem the flow", he writes, "adequate consequences must be delivered for illegal entry into the United States and for facilitating human smuggling. ... These consequences must be delivered both at the border and within the interior." He suggests that ICE expand its (meager) efforts to investigate smuggling organizations...more

No comments: