Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Thursday that “100%” of illegal-immigrant families in the new border surge are being released into communities, rather than being held and deported.
He said within a month or two, they are also granted work permits, giving them a foothold to live and remain in the U.S. while their cases proceed through the immigration courts — a process that averages two years, and stretches even longer in some overwhelmed regions.
Mr. McAleenan said that system, rewarding unauthorized migrants who jump the border with exactly the thing they seek, is responsible for the record-breaking numbers.
“That is directly how smugglers are advertising,” he told the Senate Homeland Security Committee, adding that it applies not just to families seeking asylum.
The effects on the border have been stunning.
In 2012, only about 10,000 migrants traveling as families — meaning parent and child — were caught by Border Patrol at the border. Over the last two months alone, that number was 111,679 people.
Many of the families end up ignoring their immigration court proceedings, and remain in the U.S. illegally even after they have been ordered deported.