A new strategy among immigrants who are crossing the border into the United States illegally is listing addresses of Catholic Charities as their intended destinations. This helps protect them from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) December 19, 2022
When an immigrant’s destination is filled as a Catholic Charities address, ICE finds it really hard to serve them an initial immigration court summon. Hence, the process is disrupted as the migrant gets to avoid the first step in their deportation case.
According to officers, the summon, officially called a Notice to Appear (NTA), is what signifies the beginning of a deportation proceeding as it alerts the immigration courts to a case.
“If we don’t serve a notice to appear to them, they aren’t placed into proceedings. So the true backlog is not being accurately portrayed,” one officer said. Even when ICE catches up, they have to start the deportation process from scratch.
Usually, when illegal migrants are caught, they are asked to provide their intended destinations through which NTAs can be sent to them to start their deportation cases. They are then released pending the completion of their deportation process.
But while the addresses are real and will check out, the migrants do not plan to live there. So when ICE sends an NTA, they don’t get it since they don’t live in the address.
This practice helps migrants with bogus claims to avoid the first step of their deportation process. It also serves those who have valid asylum claims as they will not have to prove their case.
According to that officer’s estimation, more than 10% of migrants in the region use that Catholic Charities and other nonprofit organizations to avoid the initial steps in their deportation process. This means that tens of thousands of migrants might be employing this practice.
Both Homeland Security and Catholic Charities are aware of the practice, but their views on who is to blame are different. While Homeland Security insists that any valid address migrants provide is to be accepted by the department, Catholic Charities, whose attention was drawn to the issue in April, said that it points to a broken immigration system.
In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden and top members of Congress in September, the nonprofit asked for Homeland Security to stop using its addresses. “DHS must stop listing Catholic Charities’ addresses on future documents without the entities’ expressed consent,” the letter read.
Officers, however, alleged that the nonprofits might be working with the migrants to shield them. Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to state Attorney General Ken Paxton requesting that he investigate nonprofits for “planning and facilitating illegal border crossings.”
It is unclear just how far the alleged scheme goes. But Abbott believes a law to that effect would be the solution.
Some Republican lawmakers have also accused Catholic Charities of facilitating the border crisis and violating federal law in its humanitarian provisions at the border during the crisis.
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