Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) new acting director has let it be known that migrant families are not off limits when it comes to being deported.
ICE’s acting Director Mark Morgan, said the agency will continue to prioritize the deportation of criminals and those with criminal histories, but families are not exempt from deportation enforcement.
Morgan is the former head of U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and has been a week at the job as acting director of ICE.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is strapped from a lack of resources. Agencies dealing with illegal migrant crossings and asylum-seekers are overwhelmed by the heavy influx of migrants crossing the border.
The removal of families would target migrants with a “final order of removal,” Morgan told reporters at ICE headquarters in Washington. “That will include families,” he added.
Speaking with Tucker Carlson from FoxNews, Morgan said he is tasked with being “a relentless advocate for the men and women of ICE to get the tools necessary to do their job.”
Educating the American people “exactly what the hardworking men and women of ICE do every day to safeguard the security of this country and enforce the rule of law” is something Morgan said is a top priority. “And also working with Congress,” he added.
Fix it in 15 minutes
However, Morgan thinks Congress has “shown an inability to do what they know they need to do to fix this crisis.”
He said, “They can do several things within a legal framework that could fix this in 15 minutes,” referring to Congress enacting policies and allowing funding for the humanitarian crisis that the Trump administration has proposed.
Morgan said he has pushed about 150 Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents and “pushed them toward the border” in charge of investigating child exploitation, seeking out individuals who rent children to “fake themselves as a family.”
DHS has begun DNA testing to weed out the fake families, and Morgan says DNA tests along with investigations are finding 25 percent of illegal families crossing the border are fraudulent.
He said they caught a 51-year-old man from Honduras with a 6-month-old he claimed was his. “They found that to be completely false,” said Morgan.
Border Patrol agents, working between official U.S. ports of entry, apprehended 132,887 individuals who entered the country illegally in May—an average of 4,286 people per day. pic.twitter.com/BC0KMU18Zi
— CBP (@CBP) June 5, 2019
People rent children to get into the country expecting an early “catch and release.” Children are not allowed to be detained for longer than 20 days. Therefore, ICE officials need to have paperwork completed before they take a family into custody or risk having to release them and lose them again.
The overwhelming strain on DHS and child agencies’ resources, and border agents drawn away from enforcement—instead tasked with handling processing, detaining, and at times babysitting the influx of illegal migrants—is a clue as to why Morgan is showing a willingness to embrace President Trump’s tough immigration agenda.
More than 200,000 migrant families have been released into the United States since Dec. 1, 2018. Morgan said generally people who have been ordered removed by a judge stop showing up for court dates, meaning ICE officers must search for them in order to deport them, according to The Associated Press.
But that is a difficult task. Even with a quick 15-minute fix by Congress, the detention, processing, and/or care for illegal immigrant adults and children is costing taxpayers $200 billion annually, according to the Washington Times.
Federal family detention centers can house about 2,500 people, but those are already full. ICE facilities, same as Border Patrol facilities are all full. Minors who cross the border alone are given to the health and human services agencies.
President Trump has been stepping up efforts to get Mexico to help quell the flow of migrants to the U.S. border, with threats of imposing tariffs on Mexican imports eventually increasing to 25 percent if nothing is done.
Morgan agrees that Mexico could readily increase its efforts. “They have 150 miles of chokepoint and a couple of major roads that are choke points that they could easily interdict. We have 2,000 miles along the southwest [U.S.] border,” he said.