ICE has already released 168,000 illegal immigrant family members into the U.S. this fiscal year, and the number is likely to surge as the border situation deteriorates, a top deportation official told Congress on Wednesday.
According to the results of a pilot program, a staggering 87% of released families are skipping their court hearings, leaving judges to order them deported in absentia — and the government is ill-equipped to track them down.
“Family units are not appearing in great numbers,” said Nathalie R. Asher, the acting chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deportation branch.
She revealed the numbers to senators Wednesday during a high-stakes hearing in which she and other immigration officials pleaded with Congress for more money and more legal tools to try to stop the surge of illegal immigrants.
Nearly 110,000 were nabbed at the southwestern border in April, including nearly 100,000 caught by the Border Patrol trying to sneak into the U.S. The other 10,000 were encountered when they showed up at ports of entry demanding to be let in, despite lacking permission.
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