BROWNSVILLE, Texas- Oklahoma’s senior senator says he has a novel route to end the controversial practise of “catch and release” on the border.
Instead of releasing illegal immigrants once they are caught trying to enter the country- and hope they show up to immigration tribunal- Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla ., proposes sending them back within their countries. That style, he told, the illegal immigrants don’t become “absorbed” in the U.S. when they are fail to show up to court.
A large number of illegal immigrants who are caught, then released, fail to show up to immigration tribunal, he told. They end up staying in the county illegally, he said.
Following a tour with border agents in Brownsville, Texas, on Monday, Inhofe said he planned to introduce legislation in the next three weeks that would allow immigration agents to send those caught illegally intersecting the border back home.
“This merely says if they’re caught in the country, send them back to their country while they wait for the court date, ” he said.
President Trump signed an executive order last year to aim “catch-and-release, ” when illegal immigrants are detained and let go in the U.S. But his plan, to keep the immigrants detained until their court proceedings have ended, was stymied by a years-long backlog in immigration court and shortfall of beds at detention centers.
But Inhofe told “catch and release” does not have to continue because of the bed shortage.
“The reason why 70 percent of[ undocumented immigrants] don’t making such a tribunal date is because[ the federal government doesn’t] build them stay in their country, ” he said. “And, obviously, if I were in that position, I’d be off someplace else too.”
A report released last year by the Center for Immigration Survey said about 46,000 illegal immigrants a year who are detained after illegally intersecting the border do not appear in court and “disappear” in the county.
“Deportation orders for failure to appear are the largest group of orders issued by immigration tribunals outside detention facilities, ” said the report, written by Mark Metcalf, a former immigration magistrate in Miami.
Inhofe’s office did not comment on the details of his proposal, saying the legislation is still being drafted.
But his proposal has come under fire from immigration groups who call it inhumane and logistically impossible.
Aida Montanaro-Flores, an immigration attorney in Brownsville, said it would be a financial burden to send the immigrants back to their country and then require them to make a trip-up back for a court hearing.
“Are they going to be allowed a traveling permit? Will the government pay for their travel to come back to the country and attend their tribunal dates? ” Montanaro-Flores asked. “What insures do we have that they they’ll be allowed to come back for their court date? ”
Other immigration groups said the idea was outright ridiculous.
“Have we really stooped this low? This suggestion is absurd, illogical and cruel- not to mention a trash of resources, ” said Kica Matos, director of the Washington , D.C.-based Immigrant and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change. “Republicans need to focus on inducing communities safer instead of continuing to tear families apart.”
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