Immigration Enforcement on the Honor System

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Central American migrants are escorted out of private land as they are detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico in La Joya, Texas, April 27, 2021. (Go Nakamura/Reuters)

The immigration-court equivalent of an indictment in the criminal context is called a Notice to Appear. When illegal aliens are apprehended at the southern border, they are usually issued an NTA, and so if they don’t appear for the hearing, they can be ordered deported in absentia.

But sometimes the flood of illegals responding to Biden’s “La Invitacion” has been so overwhelming that border agents are basically Lucy in the chocolate factory, without the time even to issue NTAs. In that case, they simply print out a “notice to report,” giving the illegals 60 days to turn themselves in to an ICE office in the interior, and dropping them off at the bus station. This is essentially immigration enforcement by the honor system.


This might prompt one to ask, how many of these people actually show up and turn themselves in to ICE? Stephen Dinan at the Washington Times reports that DHS Secretary Mayorkas was asked just that at two Senate hearings in May. At the first hearing, Mayorkas said the rate of such people reporting to ICE was “high,” and two weeks later he told lawmakers it was “very, very high.”

Secretary Mayorkas appears to have lied to Congress.

Dinan finally got the number out of ICE. They would not tell him the number of aliens released on the honor system, but congressional estimates range from 15,000 to 19,000. But DHS did report the number of illegals who’ve turned themselves in to ICE — 3,446. That means around 80 percent of illegal aliens released on the honor system failed to show up.


Interestingly, while the Biden administration has prohibited ICE from even questioning virtually all illegal aliens, it has said those who entered after November 1, 2020, are priorities for arrest and deportation. And, in fact, Mayorkas told senators that “individuals who do not appear are a priority of ours for apprehension in the service of border security.”

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So, has ICE been ordered to track down and arrest the thousands of illegals who did not report in, or was that just another lie by the secretary? It looks like the latter. ICE deportations from the interior of the country have dropped like a rock, and only about 6 percent of those detained by ICE in the interior were held for immigration charges alone, as would be the case for the no-shows.

As my colleague Jon Feere, a former ICE official, writes, “If ICE officers are not arresting and removing these individuals, it will be clear that the ICE enforcement guidelines are largely meaningless.” In other words, ICE agents are not allowed to arrest even people in that tiny sliver of the illegal population the Biden administration supposedly considers to be legitimate targets for enforcement.

In other news, Senate Democrats are trying to ram through an amnesty for 5 million illegal aliens in the budget reconciliation bill.


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