Kyl Presses Nielsen On Weekend Release Of Migrant Families From Custody

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, acknowledged that border agencies are under enormous strain to quickly process immigrant families, but that releasing them before they’ve been fully vetted is causing anxiety in local communities. (Photo by Charlene Santiago/Cronkite News)

By Vandana Ravikumar

WASHINGTON – Abeth Spencer said that most of the 100 immigrants that the Shadow Rock United Church of Christ took in this weekend at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had already moved on by Wednesday.

The Phoenix church was one of several nonprofits in the state that provided shelter, food and laundry services for the families for a brief time before putting them on buses to friends or family members elsewhere who will keep them until their next immigration hearing.

“The guests have travel plans with bus tickets to meet up with friends and family,” Spencer said. “Once they get there, they have to check back in with the local immigration office.

“All we’re really doing is providing hospitality, food, showers, a bed, until their departure time,” she said. “Because the alternative is, ICE takes them to the Greyhound bus station and they have to wait there until their bus departure, which can be 24, 48 hours later.”

Spencer said the Phoenix church is ready to take more if asked by ICE, which released hundreds of migrant families to non-governmental organizations to help it ease a backlog of cases.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, wants to know how many more.

Kyl pressed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for answers at a Senate hearing Wednesday, saying the releases have “overburdened” nonprofits and stressed residents and elected officials in border towns who fear immigrants will be “flooding into the community.”

While acknowledging that border agencies are under “enormous strain” to process immigration cases in compliance with court orders, Kyl also said that the mayor of Yuma wanted to know “what we can expect in the future, what we can do to help and what they can do to help us.”

Nielsen could not offer many specifics at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, saying her agencies simply don’t have the capacity to process all the cases they have in a timely manner. She urged Congress to take steps that would let her keep families in custody longer than the 20-day limit for holding migrant children set in the so-called Flores settlement.

It was because of Flores, and a recent surge in immigrants at the southern border, that ICE expedited the release of hundreds of families that were being held in southern Arizona detention facilities over the weekend.

Typically, before it releases a family from custody, ICE conducts a review of the family’s “post-release plan.” That includes confirming bus routes to their final destinations, coordinating with nonprofits to provide temporary shelter and other resources, and communicating with family members, according to a statement from ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe.

ICE was forced to skip that review and instead called on nonprofits around the state and asked them to help provide temporary shelter and transportation for migrant families while they wait to move on.

Families released under such conditions are not completely removed from ICE oversight. They are issued notices to appear in immigration court and enrolled in ICE’s Alternatives to Detention program, and may be paroled with supervision requirements.

The nonprofits are not responsible for resettling the migrant families in their new homes, just taking care of them while they wait to go.

Spencer said this weekend’s release was complicated by the fact that the approach of Hurricane Michael affected some bus routes that were taking immigrants to the East Coast, but that all but a handful were gone Wednesday.

She said that while organizations like Shadow Rock do not necessarily agree with the Trump administration’s hard-line approach to immigration policy, they are willing to cooperate to help the families.

“Migration, we kind of view as a natural human event,” Spencer said. “People will move where there is peace, and where there is water and where there is opportunity.

“Trying to criminalize that seems rather cruel to us,” Spencer said. “But we can’t do a lot about that, so we’re focusing on the people we can help.”

11 Comments on "Kyl Presses Nielsen On Weekend Release Of Migrant Families From Custody"

  1. Send ’em back the other way.

  2. Undocumented democrat voters getting prepped to vote. Wonder how many voted for hillary in California 5 million maybe?

  3. And nobody bothers to ask, “What percentage of released families actually show up to the Immigration court?”

  4. It is no mystery why the dems want to abolish the Electoral College.

  5. Like Kyl wasn’t part of the problem back in the day? D’s? R’s? Who’s fault? All of them. They are the swamp. They are all racists. Build the wall. Man the wall. THEN give folks green cards to work here. Force E-verify country wide, it works. Stop pocketing the holding from illegals checks and/or underpaying illegals. Make the penalty for hiring illegals, loss of business license. You are permanently closed down. No more small fines.

    Stop using illegals as economic slaves.

  6. Standman – Exactly my question as I was reading this! Last I heard, the numbers were pretty high. Hope the ones going east were sent to DC & Northern VA with the politicians.

    • There are plenty back in DC and VA for sure. They are everywhere. Back in mid-2000’s the Washington Post (rag) published a front and multipage story on how an identified illegal hispanic used a stolen identity and Social Security card in a bid to buy a house in Maryland. The illegals in my neighborhood used local hispanic realtors to help them buy houses they couldn’t afford and shouldn’t have bought in the first place. My wife walked into our bank and heard a hispanic bank official giving a workshop on hints on how to work the system to what were likely illegals. My neighborhood was flooded with home-buying illegals who ultimately lost the houses to foreclosure. How you make enough money to buy a house, let alone in a then-skyrocketing market by hanging around Home Depot for random jobs is beyond me. Right before they got official notice of foreclosure they all tried to sell their house for $100,000 more than they paid for them, I guess because THAT was the American way. Buy high and sell high. They all bought at the peak of the market and then the market tanked, taking them all along. And guess who bought many of the foreclosed homes… the same hispanic realtors that managed to get these poor fools into the houses to start with. This was a local Maryland scenario but I’m sure it was played that way all over the country.

  7. THIS IS ALL ORCHESTRATED BY THE MEXICO GOV’T. DO WHAT MEXICO DOES… SEND THEM HOME WITHIN 24 HRS WILL SAVE BILLIONS. THEY MUST APPLY FOR ASYLUM IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY. 85% OF ASYLUM APPLICATIONS ARE DENIED!
    STOP THE INSANITY!! SEND THEM HOME!!! WE CANNOT AFFORD TO HOUSE, FEED AND EDUCATE THESE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CRIMINALS.

  8. STOP POLITICIZING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND ENFORCE THE LAW. THERE ARE CLOSE TO 30 MILLION ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS HIDING IN THE SHADOWS. 1 IN 10 US RESIDENTS ARE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTs THIS IS INSANE. $2.4 billion spend on illegal immigrant births in 2014
    WAKE UP AMERICA.

  9. THANK GOD JOHN MCCAIN IS DEAD!
    I BELIEVE HE WOULD HAVE VOTED NO ON KAVANAUGH JUST TO SPITE TRUMP.
    BURN IN HELL JOHNNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. What we can do to stop our communities from being over-run by illegal migrants Senator Kyl is get behind our President and BUILD THE WALL! Senator Kyl, like Senator Flake and Governor Ducey are and have been part of the problem as they refuse to fund the securing of our border so they can provide cheap labor to their chamber of commerce buddies.

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