DHS Chief: 80,000 Migrants in Custody, 100,000 More Approaching

Friday, May 31, 2019
By Paul Martin

31 May 2019

The U.S. government is holding 80,000 migrants in custody, says Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.

“The situation is both a humanitarian and border security crisis that has become a national emergency,” McAleenan said in a telephone press conference on Thursday night. He described the inflow of migrants:

U.S. immigration authorities now have over 80,000 people in custody, a record level that is beyond sustainable capacity with current resources. Over 7,500 single adults are in custody at the border and Immigration and Customs Enforcement is holding over 50,000.

… Over 2,350 unaccompanied children — the highest level ever — are currently in custody waiting for days for placements in border stations that cannot provide appropriate conditions for them because Health and Human Services is out of bed space and Congress has failed to act on the administration’s emergency supplemental request for more than four weeks.

The detained population of 80,000 migrants is roughly twice the number which Democrats wanted to fund during the lengthy negotiations over 2019 funding.

But the 80,000 population is a small share of the overall inflow, which experts say could reach 800,000 in the 12 months up to October. Most migrants are quickly released to take jobs in U.S. blue-collar worksites, or places in schools for the children of non-elite parents.

The rush for America has been triggered by the migrants’ recognition that Congress is not trying to stop them from overwhelming U.S. border defenses. For example, Congress has rejected President Donald Trump’s repeated request to fix that Flores loophole, which allows migrants with children to be released even without starting the expected asylum request-and-denial, catch-and-release process.

“At any given moment, up to 100,000 migrants are transiting Mexico on their way to the U.S. border,” McAleenan said. “Over 75,000 families have already transited Mexico to the U.S. border this month alone [because they are] incentivized to come now by the smuggling organizations’ advertisements and the fact that families cannot be detained in custody during their immigration proceedings.”

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