ICE Creates 'Humanitarian Crisis' By Dumping Immigrants

Sunday, 01 Jun 2014 05:08 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The United States has a humanitarian crisis on its own doorstep as thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America — many of them women and children — stream across the border into south Texas, according to reports.

Families are crossing the Rio Grande gateway to America in droves after hearing reports that people who make it into the country are being allowed to remain, creating a critical situation for overwhelmed relief agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

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Hundreds of undocumented immigrants are being rounded up every day in south Texas by the Border Patrol, which is then flying scores of them to Arizona and dropping them off at Greyhound bus terminals in Tucson and Phoenix, the Phoenix Gazette reports.

But humanitarian groups say that the migrants — mainly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — are being released in conditions that are "inadequate and inhumane."

Proponents of tougher immigrations enforcement laws, on the other hand, are dismayed that they are being freed to "disappear" into America.

The problems have arisen because understaffed Border Patrol officials in south Texas cannot handle the processing of a huge influx of migrants, and earlier this month started flying them across the state to El Paso, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

ICE has been sending planeloads of undocumented immigrants, mainly women and children, to Tucson and Phoenix, and leaving them at the bus terminals, while expecting them to report their whereabouts to an ICE officer within 15 days, says the Gazette.

Cyndi Whitmore, a volunteer with the Phoenix Restoration Project, has been helping dozens of women and children at the Phoenix bus terminal, and says her advocacy group is worried about their health and welfare.

"It's not safe healthwise, and we are concerned for their physical safety," she said. "Some of the kids were crying. Some were infants that weren't fully clothed. They didn't have diapers. They didn't have formula."

Laurie Melrood, a volunteer family advocate in Tucson, told the Gazette that ICE had been dropping off small numbers at the Greyhound bus station for seven months. But on Monday last week, the agency released 70 people there, followed by 90 on Tuesday and 60 on Wednesday.

She noted that while in the past it was men and women, the latest batches were all women and children, the Gazette reports. "The conditions under which they are released are inadequate and inhumane," she said.

The groups have been handing out food and water to the immigrants, while also helping them to buy bus tickets to reach relatives in other cities.

The Border Control confirmed that 400 undocumented citizens had been flown to Arizona because officials in south Texas did not have enough manpower to process the recent surge in border evaders, the newspaper said.

Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based group pushing for better border enforcement, said the news that illegal immigrants are being dropped off at bus stations would just encourage even more people to enter the U.S. without documentation.

"This is a huge concern; this is exactly the incentive for people to cross the border illegally," said Mehlman, while pointing out that many of them just disappear into the American heartland because ICE is not interested in tracking them down unless they have criminal records.

The Border Patrol recently reported that 90,700 migrants were seized in the Rio Grande Valley in the past six months, a 69 percent increase over last year.

The migrants have put such a severe strain on U.S. immigration prevention resources, including detention facilities, asylum offices, and special courts, that scores of them are being released into the U.S. temporarily, according to reports.

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