On Monday, Congresswoman Ashley Hinson sent a letter to President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the Administration’s policy of releasing illegal immigrants into the United States without a Notice to Appear (NTA) in court.
“The Biden Administration’s thoughtless withdrawal from Afghanistan, in combination with their failed border policies, has put us in a vulnerable national security situation. We already know that border patrol has apprehended people on the terrorist watch list trying to get into our country. It is all the more important that the Administration answer these questions and ensure Americans and Iowans that dangerous criminals detained at our Southern Border, including potential terrorists, are not being released into our country.” –Congresswoman Ashley Hinson
In the letter, Hinson wrote: “Simply telling migrants not to come is not enough; real action is required. Several policies implemented by your Administration have signaled opened borders: cancelling border infrastructure contracts, reinstating catch-and-release, and drastically decreasing interior enforcement are some of the worst offenders. However, we now have confirmation of a new policy that encourages illegal immigration: releasing migrants into the interior without a notice to appear (NTA).”
Read the full letter below.
Dear President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas,
I write today with great concern over the actions taken by your Administration – actions that are having real impacts on our communities. Communities in Iowa, communities along our Southwest Border, and communities all across the country are having their safety jeopardized as a direct result of your immigration enforcement policies – rather, the lack thereof.
Time and time again, Members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, have gone to see the crisis at our border firsthand. We have met with the agents, local law enforcement officers, and border community residents to discuss the impacts of your policies on the drastic migration surge and on Americans’ safety and security.
The data from our agents at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is shocking and warrants immediate, decisive action. In the month of July, CBP encountered 212,672 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border – that’s an increase of more than 160,000 encounters over July of 2020. We’re in the hottest months of the year, yet more than 210,000 individuals last month decided to make the dangerous trek across the border. Under your watch, CBP has set a more than two-decade record for the most migrants encountered in a month– the responsibility for this crisis rests on your shoulders.1
Simply telling migrants not to come is not enough; real action is required. Several policies implemented by your Administration have signaled opened borders: cancelling border infrastructure contracts, reinstating catch-and-release, and drastically decreasing interior enforcement are some of the worst offenders. However, we now have confirmation of a new policy that encourages illegal immigration: releasing migrants into the interior without a notice to appear (NTA).
On March 21, 2021, Fox News reported, and Axios later confirmed, reports of migrants being released by CBP without an NTA.2 On April 2nd, CBP confirmed this with the New York Post, saying, “The process for providing someone with a Notice to Appear frequently takes hours, which contributed to overcrowding in some Border Patrol facilities.”3
During the May 19th House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing, I asked CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller about this policy, questioning whether there was specific written guidance in place on who gets an NTA and who does not.4 I submitted additional questions for the record asking what factors determine whether or not someone released into the interior. I have yet to receive a response. It has been three months.
Secretary Mayorkas, during the May 26th House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing, I asked you directly about individuals showing up for NTA hearings, where you falsely claimed, “the appearance rate is extraordinarily high.”5 Again, I submitted follow-up questions requesting information relating to appearance rates for NTAs. Again, I have yet to receive a response. Press reports indicate you chose to lie to me on the record, so perhaps waiting for a truthful, thorough response from you is a futile effort. Thankfully, the press was able to provide answers to some of these questions, even if you refuse.
Axios recently reported that 50,000 illegal immigrants have been released into the interior without an NTA. Worse yet, only 13 percent of these 50,000 have reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).6 This figure is shocking, disrespectful to those who protect our borders, and jeopardizes the safety and security of all Americans. Not only is this a national security issue, it is a transparency issue – the American people deserve answers regarding the reasoning for this practice, as well how CBP implements it along the border region.
Mr. President, if the reasoning is a lack of resources, why then did your budget request call for cuts to CBP and ICE? It included no additional dollars for new Border Agents and CBP Officers, decreased funding for detention beds, and not only zero funding for border barrier construction, but a recission of previously appropriated funds. Quite frankly, this budget request was anemic, and clearly lacks an understanding of what it takes to keep our border secure – just ask those who live and work there.
President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas, you are putting the safety and security of all Americans at risk with this seemingly incomprehensible action at the border, and with no transparency at all.
In the interest of transparency and safety for my constituents, I respectfully request you respond to the following questions. I am hopeful that by escalating this issue to you, Mr. President, I will get a response this time.
- When did DHS begin to stop issuing NTAs to all migrants released into the interior?
- Who made the decision?
- What was the reasoning behind this decision?
- Since a “notice to report” is not codified in federal statute, where is your authority to issue these instead of an NTA?
- What exactly is a “notice to report”?
- What is DHS doing to increase the rate of appearances?
- What guidance has been issued for who gets an NTA and who does not?
- What is the rate of appearances for NTAs?
- What enforcement actions is DHS taking against those who do not report under either an NTA or a “notice to report”?
- In terms of DHS’s enforcement priorities, what has been the decrease rate of ICE arrests in the interior as a result of the memo of February 18, 2021.
- How many times have ICE agents had to seek permission before making an arrest of an individual illegally present in the interior?
- Of those arrest permissions, how many times was that request related to an individual illegally present who had been previously convicted of an aggravated felony?
- Finally, why, Secretary Mayorkas, did you lie, or were intentionally deceitful as a witness before the House Appropriations Committee – Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on May 26, 2021?
I look forward your response to these questions and hope to see your Administration begin to take action to address the current crisis at our border. The security of our country is in jeopardy, and quite frankly, the response from the Administration has been pathetic.
In your own works, Secretary Mayorkas, the current situation is “unsustainable,” and you have failed to take action to prioritize the safety of the American people. Secretary Mayorkas, the response by DHS under your supervision has been weak, seeking to appease the most radical voices in the Democrat party, resulting in open borders and exponentially worsening the current crisis. This is unacceptable, as has been your conduct during my questioning of you as a witness.
I look forward to a prompt response from the Administration.