In my last post, I analyzed CBP’s “Southwest Land Border Encounters” statistics for August. I failed to mention one statistic, largely because it was about the previous month: CBP revised up Border Patrol apprehensions at the Southwest border for July, to 200,599 (a difference of 822 from its prior totals). That is a bad milestone, and a curious revision.
It’s a bad milestone because it marks the first month in the last 21 years (Border Patrol’s monthly numbers begin in October 1999) that monthly apprehension numbers at the Southwest border exceeded 200,000. July thus joins February 2000 and March 2000 in the 200,000-plus club.
It’s a curious revision because it raises questions about how well CBP is tracking the illegal migrants it is apprehending, processing, and releasing. I could imagine if the agency overlooked one or two aliens it apprehended in July, but 822? That’s malpractice.
CBP generally, and Border Patrol in particular, is stretched to the breaking point. Agents aren’t in the field because they are processing migrants who have turned themselves in and giving them food and shelter. Those aliens are turning themselves in in the reasonable — and usually correct — expectation that they will be quickly released under the president’s illogical immigration policies.
Still, every alien who is processed by CBP should be entered into any number of electronic databases. If they were, DHS would know in real time how many aliens were apprehended entering illegally on any given day. Unless, again, agents and officers are so overwhelmed that they can’t even record the apprehension of each of the thousands of migrants they are apprehending daily.
The missing 822 illegal migrants in July appears to be proof that this is occurring. The “Notice to Report” system does, too.
Under that system, aliens are released into the United States without being issued “Notices to Appear” (NTAs), but rather with “Notices to Report”, essentially advisals to show up at an ICE office in 60 days (not surprisingly, most don’t show).
An NTA is like an indictment in a criminal case. Pursuant to section 239 of the INA, DHS must provide every removable alien it encounters with an NTA containing certain information, including the grounds of removability and the time, date, and place of the first removal hearing (the “initial Master calendar hearing”).
NTAs have real legal effect. As the Supreme Court has recently held, service of a completed NTA cuts off an alien’s accrual of time in the United States for certain immigration benefits, and if the alien is properly served with an NTA and fails to appear at a removal hearing, the alien can be removed.
In contrast, Notices to Report have no congressional imprimatur whatsoever. My colleague Mark Krikorian describes CBP’s release of aliens with such documents as “essentially immigration enforcement by the honor system”. That is especially true if Border Patrol agents and CBP officers are releasing those aliens without recording the fact that they were apprehended to begin with.
It was such shoddy recordkeeping that led the former INS to issue student visas to 9/11 hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi — six months after that attack, in March 2002. And it is the “former INS” because the agency issued student visas to two dead terrorists. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, prompting Congress to dismantle the INS and create DHS to begin with.
Congress should now investigate DHS and find out whether it’s releasing illegal migrants — largely unscreened and not even Covid-tested — into the United States without properly processing them. While 822 forgotten migrants may not seem like a big number, they are indicative of a big problem — with serious implications for national security and American sovereignty.