Overwhelmed immigration agents in Southern California rented $99-per-night hotel rooms for a sudden surge of illegal immigrants on Monday while releasing others into major U.S. cities, Fox News reports.
Hundreds of illegal immigrants crossing the Otay Pass, located just north of the U.S.-Mexican border, jammed the processing center and forced immigration agents to move them to another station. The illegal immigrants had been taught to use “key words and phrases” and claimed they had a “credible fear” of drug cartels in Mexico when questioned by the Port Enforcement Team, according to Fox10 News.
“They are being told if they come across the border, when they come up to the border and they say certain words, they will be allowed into the country,” an anonymous source who did not wish to be identified told Fox10 News. “We are being overwhelmed.”
To relieve the enormous pressure the influx placed on the California San Ysidro and Otay Mesa processing centers, ICE employees are working both overtime and weekend shifts to transport and then release families of illegals into Florida, Texas and Brooklyn.
Two-hundred illegal immigrants clamored for asylum in Otay Mesa, while an additional 550 surged into the center and overflowed into San Ysidro. Thirty immigrants so far have stayed in hotels, while 70 have been released from custody.
“People were sleeping on floors — they had nowhere to put them,” one anonymous source, a long-time border agent and supervisor, told Fox News. “This shouldn’t be happening. Unless there is an immediate and well-publicized policy change, this situation will become another debacle.”
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on the “credible threat” phrase, saying that the illegal immigrants must appear in court to claim asylum.
“Credible fear determinations are dictated by long standing statute, not an issuance of discretion. The USCIS officer must find that a ‘significant possibility’ exists that the individual may be found eligible for asylum or withholding or removal,” the statement read. “If the credible fear threshold is met, the individual is placed into removal proceedings in Immigration Court. The final decision on asylum eligibility rests with an immigration judge.”
However, most illegal immigrants are released during the removal proceedings and simply disappear, especially since immigration judges deny 91 percent of asylum claims from Mexico.
Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 illegal immigrants a year vanish into the U.S. and fail to show up in court. As it happens, 231 immigration judges and 57 immigration courts can handle 280,000 proceedings each year, which is four decisions per day, and an average of 1,243 per year per judge, Fox News reports.
The current inflow severely complicates processing. One immigration expert warned that the U.S. must create an emergency stopgap measure to halt the influx.
“This will swamp the system,” Pete Nunez, former U.S. Attorney and immigration expert, told Fox10 News. “There are no detention facilities for families, so the family would have to be split up. We don’t want to split families up, so we end up releasing people out into the community on bond, on bail. It’s a huge loophole. There has to be a policy change, something implemented, an emergency implementation that will stop this, or otherwise we will have thousands coming in.”
In another interview with Fox News, Nunez said he believed that the surge was pre-planned.
“This clearly has to have been orchestrated by somebody,” he said. “It’s beyond belief that dozens or hundreds or thousands of people would simultaneously decide that they should go to the U.S. and make this claim.”
The surge comes as Congress weighs passing a transformative immigration reform bill that would add millions of new low-wage workers eligible for government benefits into the economy.
Should a bill similar to the Senate’s massive immigration overhaul be signed into law, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that 46 million new immigrants will arrive in the U.S. at a time when the federal deficit is increasing and — according to an analysis by the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies– native-born Americans have gained no new jobs.
The cost of legalizing the tens of millions of illegal immigrants would cost taxpayers over $6.3 trillion dollars in the next 50 years, according to a Heritage Foundation report. Each immigrant-led household would, at the minimum, take in $592,000 more in government benefits than they would pay in taxes over the course of a lifetime, not accounting for steadily rising healthcare and welfare costs.