27 state AGs request federal government end catch-and-release policies

(The Center Square) – Twenty-seven attorneys general, led by Florida’s Ashley Moody, are demanding Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “fix the problem you created” and close the catch-and-release loophole DHS is “currently exploiting to implement its mass release policy at the Southwest Border.”

The coalition filed a Petition for Rulemaking demanding that Mayorkas amend DHS’s catch-and-release policies. In their 6-page letter, they point to how “DHS is releasing aliens at a rate of over one million per year, and that does not include the aliens being released on parole under § 1182(d)(5).”

In addition to releasing inadmissible illegal foreign nationals into the U.S., DHS is releasing them with court dates for three to four years and even 10 years into the future, a lag that The Center Square first reported. The coalition argues Mayorkas’ policies will result in allowing millions more unauthorized people to remain in the U.S. for 15 years or longer before ever they ever appear before an immigration judge.

The coalition says the mandatory detention policy, CBP processing policy, and parole authority stipulated by federal statute are being violated by DHS. “DHS’s practice of releasing aliens at the Southwest Border … is fragrantly unlawful” and proposes regulatory changes.

They argue Mayorkas’ “first and most important reason for granting the petition is that DHS’s current practices are unlawful. DHS should take seriously whether its practices comply with the law, and it should grant a petition that seeks to stop its officers from committing unlawful acts.”

The second reason, they argue, is catch-and-release policies are “having horrendous effects” across the country, with some individuals’ court dates being set for 10 years in the future.

Their call came after Moody and other attorneys general first called for his resignation. They then called on Congress to impeach him, and then to strip him of his salary. Moody and several AGs have also sued DHS over its parole policies, border security policies and others, arguing they violate federal law.

“The Biden administration’s intentional dismantling of border security has resulted in more than seven million inadmissible immigrants entering the U.S., including suspected terrorists,” Moody said.

In fiscal 2023, the highest number of known or suspected terrorists were apprehended attempting to enter the U.S. illegally – 659, The Center Square has reported. The overwhelming majority being caught are coming through the northern border.

The coalition’s letter to Mayorkas cites outdated data of 1.5 million known gotaways as another reason to reverse the administration’s policies. The number is closer to 1.6 million, and likely higher, since January 2021, as The Center Square has previously reported.

Publicly reported CBP apprehension and KSTs data doesn’t include gotaways. “Gotaways” is the official U.S. Customs and Border Patrol term that refers to those who illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry, don’t return to Mexico or Canada, and are not apprehended. An unknown number of KSTs are believed to be gotaways.

The Biden administration has consistently claimed the border is closed and secure, and a humane, orderly process is being implemented. But more than 8 million people have illegally entered the U.S. since January 2021, excluding gotaways. This data also excludes those entering using the CBP One App. Total numbers are estimated to be closer to 10 million, or likely higher, officials have explained to The Center Square.

“Given the massive flood of unvetted migrants into the interior of our country, there is no way to know who is in the U.S. or if they plan to enact terror on Americans,” Moody said. “Given the risks illustrated by what happened this weekend in Israel, I am leading a coalition of 27 attorneys general taking action to force the Biden administration to enact responsible rulemaking to ensure our nation’s security at our Southern Border.”

If Mayorkas denies the petition, they indicated they plan on seeking judicial review.

Joining Moody in filing the petition are attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.


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