Washington, DC - A briefer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stood outside the closed-door meeting Wednesday while negotiators working on a homeland security spending deal heard from border experts, who made their pitch for a border wall.
The ICE briefer never made it in the room, an administration official said.
If he had been allowed to speak, he would have told them that the limits they’re pondering to immigrant detention, proposed by Democrats, would lead to 30,000 people being released back onto the streets, including thousands of migrants with criminal records.
While most of the public focus in the negotiations has been on President Trump’s call for a border wall, the number of detention beds available to hold illegal immigrants is just as big of a sticking point — and perhaps even more critical to achieving Mr. Trump’s stated goal of cutting illegal immigration.
“ICE was disappointed not to be able to address the conference committee directly,” the administration source told The Washington Times.
Left outside the room, ICE has instead produced a briefing document for the negotiators. The document defends the president’s call for 52,000 detention beds and says both Democrats’ plan — cutting ICE to about 35,520 beds — and even Senate Republicans‘ proposal of about 40,520 beds would mean dangerous migrants would have to be set free.
“Up to 30,000 releases of criminals, illegal aliens with criminal charges and recent border crossers” would not be held, ICE said. In some cases ICE would even be forced to break the law to release migrants deemed subject to “mandatory detention” by Congress, the briefing says.
Not only would that cut down on deterrence of illegal immigration, but it would mean fewer criminals would be ousted from American communities, ICE argued.
There are one million migrants who have been ordered deported but who are still free in the U.S., ICE says.
Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman said if Congress wants to cut into the current surge of illegal immigration, it must pony up for detention beds.
“Without the necessary detention authority and sufficient funding for family beds to enable ICE to detain family units when they are ordered removed, ICE will still only be able to remove a very small percentage of family units, thereby increasing the pull factors and further contributing to the border crisis,” she said.
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