The immigration law now being used on migrants who cross the border illegally, Title 8, could lead to overcrowding at jails which would trigger authorities to release them onto US streets instead of deporting them, sources tell The Post.
While the law does carry legal consequences for migrants who jump over the border — it also creates a headache for border patrol and sheriffs who run local jails.
“The more we prosecute, the more that they’re going to go to jail, and we’ll get to a point where there is no more jail space,” former Border Patrol agent Thaddeus Cleveland, who is now the sheriff in Sanderson, Texas, told The Post.
Texas Congressman Tony Gonzales agreed, adding: “Bottom line is these jails are already over capacity.
“You go to Hudspeth [County] Jail — it’s over capacity, you go to Val Verde County Jail, it’s over capacity. You go to Medina County — these are not even counties that are on the border…they’re 100-plus miles north.”
US immigration officials have not had to deal with the reality of jailing all illegal migrants since 2020.
That’s when President Trump started using Title 42, a then-little known health measure within immigration law which allows the Border Patrol to kick out migrants and immediately return them to Mexico on grounds of protecting US civilians’ health.
It carried no legal consequences, which led to migrants sneaking into the country numerous times.
In the last three years, the Border Patrol used Title 42 to expel about 40% of all migrants who crossed the border illegally, according to US government statistics.
Since Title 42 expired May 11, every migrant who crosses into the US illegally has been subject to Title 8, which takes a longer time to process migrants and leads to deportation, which carries consequences.
Under Title 8, an illegal immigrant who illegally crossed is deported to their home country or returned to Mexico on their first attempt, according to the feds.
That person is also barred from entry to the States under any circumstances for five years.
If they try to get back in a second time, they can be criminally prosecuted.
Since the end of Title 42 on May 11, Border Patrol has reported a decrease in the number of people trying to enter the US.
But border sources have said that is partly because migrants are being cautious and waiting to see what happens, and not because they have given up on entering the US.
Following Title 42’s end, Mexico’s immigration agency said an estimated 26,000 migrants are still waiting in communities around the border with the intention of crossing.
Migrants charged with illegal entry would mostly likely end up in federal holding cells to await a court date with a US judge, the sheriff stated.
But with federal courts backed up months, sometimes years, if there’s a surge of migrants at the border, federal officials would have to make tough calls.
“That’s when [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] starts running out of bed space,” explained Cleveland.
“Let’s say I [apprehend] six Honduran migrants, and I call over to [Border Patrol] to see if they have any space, and they say, ‘No, I have no jail space,’ at that point they would be given a NTA — notice to appear in court and let out. That’s when you start hearing the words ‘catch and release.’”
The notice appear would grant the release of the illegal immigrant onto the streets, so long as they did not have a criminal record, pending their immigration court date.
“There is no space,” Gonzales said of the current situation in Texas jails.
Gov. Greg Abbott has been prosecuting illegal immigrants under a state trespassing law in what the Republican calls “catch and jail.”
“That was part of the issue with the [Texas] governor issuing trespassing charges — all sounds great, but when you apprehend somebody, where do they go? How do they get magistrated? These are all things that are backlogged,” the Congressman added.
Under Abbott, Texas has issued more than 25,000 migrants with border-related charges, according to the governor’s office.
Credit: Source link