N4T Investigators: Border Patrol union says directive provides open invitation to undocumented immigrants
Border Patrol agents’ union representatives say a directive from the Department of Homeland Security is providing an open invitation to undocumented immigrants wanting to enter the United States. But Customs and Border Protection said that is not the case and there have been no stand-down directives issued.
According to National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, the directive said Border Patrol agents should not issue a notice to appear at deportation hearings to undocumented immigrants who tell agents they have been in the country since January 2014, even if they cannot provide proof.
Another directive issued in November states that an undocumented immigrant’s removal will hinge on the judgment of an immigration officer. “[If] the alien is not a threat to the integrity of the immigration system or there are factors suggesting the alien should not be an enforcement priority.”
Agents have dubbed this technique as a ‘catch and release’.
“Through not issuing NTAs, what you’re telling Border Patrol agents is that your job doesn’t matter,” Judd said.
However, Customs and Border Protection released a statement to the News 4 Tucson Investigators saying agents are still issuing notice to appear summons and there has not been a new directive issued.
“The U.S. Border Patrol has not issued any stand-down order to agents. The Border Patrol’s enforcement posture and operation is the same as it was in 2014 and 2015, agents are issuing notices to appear consistent with law, regulation, and enforcement priorities.”
Judd said even if agents decide to issue an undocumented immigrant with a notice to appear, it can be overrode at a higher level, essentially allowing the undocumented immigrant to walk free in the United States without any way to track them.
“If you don’t issue NTAs, what you are telling anybody from another country, you’re in essence inviting them to come over here and break the laws," Judd said. "We’re not talking about legal immigration, we’re talking about illegal immigration."
Judd believes the directive to not issue notice to appear summons will lead to an increase in immigration, based on his personal experience from the late 1990s and early 2000s involving an influx of immigrants from Brazil.
“When we would release these Brazilians, when we would take them into custody, if weren’t holding them for deportations and proceedings what we see, we would see a huge influx that would all of a sudden start coming over, but the moment we started holding them for deportation proceedings, those numbers immediately dropped,” Judd said.
Judd testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security on February 4 about the directive.
He said even when agents were issuing notice to appear summons, data showed approximately 40 percent did not show. He said because of the large number of immigrants not appearing for their deportation hearings, agents have dubbed summons as ‘notices to disappear.’
“Deputy Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas said why overburden an already burdened legal system, why would we just issue NTAs if we’re never going to get to them in the first place,” Judd said.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, apprehension numbers within Border Patrol dropped in 2015, with 337,117 apprehensions nationwide, down from 486,651 in 2014.