Trump administration takes unprecedented step to process border-crossers

Monday, May 27, 2019
By Paul Martin

For the first time, the government is relocating illegal border-crossers for processing, struggling to handle a surge of people at various choke points.


The United States is for the first time sending illegal border-crossers to other cities for processing, transporting more than 3,000 each week from southern Texas and Arizona to other locations as the government struggles to deal with surging numbers of nearly 100,000 migrants a month crossing the southern border.

The Trump administration is flying migrants to San Diego and Del Rio, Texas, and busing them to El Centro, Calif., and Laredo, Texas, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official familiar with the plan. There, they are being processed — which includes photographs, health screenings, fingerprints and background checks — before they are often released and told to return for a court hearing at a later date.

It is the first time in history the U.S. has transported immigrants to other localities because federal officials can’t process them in time at their original point of entry, the official said. The government is required by law to process these border-crossers within 72 hours.

“There’s no room at facilities for them. It’s getting so backlogged,” said Thomas Homan, the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who remains in touch with the White House. “It’s a national crisis. They have to do what’s best.”

CBP quietly approved the plan in early May to work with ICE to begin relocating immigrants from Rio Grande Valley, Texas, and Yuma, Ariz., to other locations in the southwestern part of the United States. The plan will continue for the “foreseeable future,” the CBP official said.

Some parts of the plan, which began May 7, have been reported but new details emerged in recent days based on interviews with a half dozen current and former Department of Homeland Security administration officials.

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