Border Incompetence Leaves Over 60,000 Aliens in Limbo, Drawing Fire from All Sides
In May, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated that the objective of the Biden administration was “safe, orderly… pathways for individuals to be able to access our legal system”, usurping the congressional mandate for a secure border. However, it seems that under current leadership, DHS can’t handle even this watered-down mission. A scathing new report shows that the Biden administration failed to deliver this promised “orderly access” to tens of thousands of illegal aliens it has let into the country. The sheer scale of this failure threatens our already overloaded immigration court system.
At issue are Notices to Appear (NTAs), which are written notices similar to court summons that officials are legally required to give to illegal aliens who cross the U.S. border without authorization and are released. NTAs lay out grounds for inadmissibility against the alien and set up a date and time for them to appear in immigration court. However, if the NTA isn’t filed with that court after the case is scheduled as federal regulations mandate, then the alien’s case will be dismissed when they show up. This also prevents the alien from applying for asylum or other kinds of relief while their case is dismissed, leaving them in an illegal gray area.
According to data released by Syracuse University’s TRAC project, 63,586 immigration court cases were dismissed in FY22 because DHS officials failed to file the NTA with the proper court. These dismissals represent a full one-sixth of all immigration court cases docketed in that time period, a huge increase from previous years. They also create a huge waste of time and money for both the illegal aliens and the massively backlogged system set up to handle their cases. Customs and Border Protection, already overwhelmed by migrant waves attracted by lenient policy, is systematically failing to perform due diligence when releasing individuals into the country and leaving tens of thousands legally helpless unless they refile.
Mass immigration advocates are also criticizing the Biden administration for this, and for good reason. DHS leadership has abandoned any pretense of protecting the border in the name of ensuring “orderly access” to the legal system, yet DHS’s own misconduct blocks a huge percentage of illegal aliens from any kind of access by terminating their cases. For once, a consensus seems to have emerged on all sides of the immigration issue: DHS’s inability to properly follow procedure is confusing both courts and migrants, wasting huge amounts of money and time, and preventing judges from making timely decisions on removal. No one benefits from a situation where DHS leadership consistently fails to take responsibility.
It must be noted that, according to the letter of the law, this situation should not be happening at all. Section 235(b)(1)(B)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires that illegal aliens be detained while their claims are heard in immigration court. For decades, however, Congress has refused to fund its own mandate. Most aliens are released while their claims are heard because there is simply no way to hold them. Failures like this one slow down and complicate the already glacial process of deciding these cases and reduce confidence in the system.
Without security or the orderly legal process it promised, it’s beginning to seem like the current administration can’t even do open borders right.