More than 375,000 of the 473,682 illegal immigrants who were captured going across the U.S.-Mexican border with a family member in fiscal 2019 were released into other parts of the United States, the Washington Examiner reported on Monday.
Those who were released were permitted to go anywhere in the United States that they chose and are awaiting court hearings, along with some three million others, to determine if they will be allowed to remain in the country.
A major reason for the large number of those released was that the Border Patrol last March started letting people go directly from its custody instead of the usual procedure of turning them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Examiner reported.
ICE said this was done because the number of those caught at the time was so high that there was not enough bed space to accommodate them, as well as a 2015 court ruling that prevented the authorities from holding families for more than 20 days.
During fiscal 2019, the number released in such a manner totaled 145,000 family members, according to the Examiner. An additional 230,000 family members were given over to the custody of ICE, which then eventually let them go.
Since the fall, the number of families arriving at the border has decreased significantly.
During the year, ICE deported 267,258 people, including 5,702 who arrived with a family member and 6,351 unaccompanied children. The rest were those arrested by ICE inside the country and single adults caught at the border with Mexico.
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