CBP Increases Use of Unlawful Migrant Release Program

U.S. Customs and Border Protection paperwork. | Image by Daniel Fela, Getty Images

Since 2004, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has used Parole + ATD (alternatives to detention) to allow some unlawful migrants to be released from custody. This program has been used sparingly, but numbers indicate that usage has risen recently.

CBP reports around 8,600 unlawful migrants were released under this program in February, but over 24,000 were released in March. That number jumped over 40,000 in April. Unlawful migrants in CBP custody are assessed for acceptance to the Parole + ATD program in lieu of a detention facility.

According to the Epoch Times, affected individuals must pass a background check, but asylum claims do not need to be verified for the individuals to be allowed to stay in the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection can process unlawful migrants “significantly faster” when using this exemption. Unlawful migrants are then released with a court date to attend an immigration hearing.

Over 120,600 unlawful migrants have been released from custody under the ATD provision. 

According to research done by immigration specialist Audrey Singer, “These aliens are not statutorily mandated to be in DHS custody, are not considered threats to public safety or national security, and have been released either on bond, their own recognizance, or parole pending a decision on whether they should be removed from the United States.”

Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) has made border security one of his top priorities and ardently disagrees with the Parole + ATD policy.

“Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas’ DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has refused to detain migrants — as required by law — has failed to remove innumerable people who have no right to be here, and are abusing their parole authority to continue to release tens of thousands of migrants.”

Some praise the policy. The National Immigration Justice Center (NIJC) views ATD programs as a more humane and cost-effective measure than detention.

“Immigration detention has been proven to traumatize vulnerable populations, jeopardize the basic health and safety of those detained, and undermine meaningful access to counsel in isolated, remote facilities. Immigration detention is driven by profit and politics, not public safety,” the NIJC said in a statement.

CBP monthly unlawful migrant encounters jumped to over 220,000 in March and over 230,000 in April. When Title 42 expires on May 23, that number is expected to climb higher.

Critics of the Parole + ATD method say that the possibility that dangerous individuals could be allowed into the United States grows exponentially.

Andrew Arthur, at the Center for Immigration Studies, discussed what he views as faults of the vetting method CBP agents are using for Parole + ATD.

“You can run their fingerprints, but are you going to run their criminal record in Honduras? Are you going to be able to run their activities in Yemen? The vetting is only as good as the intel, and the intel isn’t that good,” Arthur said.

The fate of Title 42 lies in the ruling of a Louisiana federal judge who placed a temporary injunction on the end of the mandate. He is expected to make a final ruling before the May 23 end date.

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