Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan partly blamed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for the recent increase in illegal immigration, arguing the court’s decisions have created a legal environment friendly to foreign aliens.
Homan told the Washington Examiner Wednesday that the 9th Circuit’s decisions incentivize illegal crossings, suggesting immigrants know they will receive favorable treatment in its jurisdiction.
“I think the uptick right now is on the family units, especially the family units and the UACs. And that uptick is because of the loopholes in the system and some of the decisions by the 9th Circuit,” he told the Examiner.
“When you get a recent court decision saying you can only detain a family for so many days, when there’s constant repeals and temporary restraining orders, people seeing the administration getting their hands tied, they see it as an opportunity,” he added. He later acknowledged his evidence for the claim is anecdotal and cannot be substantiated with data.
Just this week the court reversed a conviction for transporting an illegal alien for financial gain, finding a lower court judge had given the jury incorrect instructions during deliberations. The case involved an Arizona resident named Lidia Rodriguez who tried to help an undocumented immigrant elude the Border Patrol in 2013. The immigrant in question attempted to cross the border illegally on two prior occasions.
The 9th Circuit has also found that U.S. law enforcement cannot permanently detain immigrants before deportation. Foreign aliens detained longer than six months are entitled to a bond hearing, through which they could obtain a conditional release, the court ruled in 2015. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing that decision.
In a related vein, President Donald Trump’s administration appealed directly to the Supreme Court after a federal judge in San Francisco, Calif., ordered the government to continue administering the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, that extends temporary legal status to nearly 700,000 foreign aliens. It is extremely uncommon for the government to appeal directly to the Supreme Court and bypass the circuit courts, though the Department of Justice argues the case requires immediate resolution.
The 9th Circuit has also twice stayed President Donald Trump’s travel sanctions, though those rulings would not affect illegal entry at the southern border.
Twenty percent of the U.S. population is situated in the 9th Circuit. The court’s jurisdiction is massive, stretching from the shoals of Hawaii, to Alaska’s far, snowy reaches, to the Grand Canyon.
Trump nominated Homan for ICE director in Nov. 2017.
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