Who agrees that Obama is just trying to do as much as he can to mess with Trump before he takes office? It sure seems that way with everything he’s been doing in the last few days. Hopefully Trump has a good plan.
A surge in border crossings and a lack of immigration jail space have prompted the federal government to start releasing Haitian immigrants who have been entering the country in large numbers in recent months, backtracking on a pledge to jail the migrants.
A U.S. government official told The Associated Press that the decision to free Haitians arriving in Arizona and California is in response to a lack of jail space. The official said releasing immigrants with orders to report later to immigration court is a tactic used when detention space is scarce, under certain humanitarian conditions or as part of efforts to keep families together.
Before the Haitians are released, they are subjected to a criminal background and national security check. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and insisted on speaking on condition of anonymity.
The influx of migrants and lack of jail space on the border will be one of the most immediate immigration challenges for President-elect Donald Trump, whose hard-line rhetoric on the issue won over conservatives and contributed to his historic upset last week. Trump vowed to build a wall on the border and carry out mass deportations.
Thousands of Haitians have arrived at the U.S. border with Mexico in recent months, many after traveling 7,000 miles by foot, taxi and bus from Brazil through eight nations. They present themselves to U.S. border inspectors, often at San Diego’s San Ysidro port of entry, the nation’s busiest crossing.
About 5,000 Haitians had showed up at San Ysidro from October 2015 through late September, overwhelming border inspectors. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana said at a recent congressional hearing that officials told her on a trip to Central America that 40,000 more were on their way.
The Department of Homeland Security last week said there were about 41,000 people in immigration detention facilities, compared to a typical population of 31,000 to 34,000. Secretary Jeh Johnson authorized the acquisition of more bed space for single adults.
The move reverses Johnson’s recently announced plans to detain Haitians during deportation proceedings. In late September, Homeland Security began putting Haitians in detention before sending them back to the homeland they fled.
It was unclear how many Haitians have been released since the change. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.