The Trump administration said Tuesday it will stop putting some migrant families in jail because facilities at the Rio Grande Valley in Texas are overcrowded.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will give some families a notice to appear in court while others will be released on their own recognizance with no set bond amount.
Border Patrol agents will no longer hand them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for extended detention.
The Rio Grande Valley area in recent months has been a hot spot for families crossing the border illegally with children, with more than 58,000 families apprehended since October, government officials said — accounting for 42 percent of all families caught at the border in that time.
Large increases are expected in the coming months.
“The system is breaking,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said. “And our communities, our law enforcement personnel, and the migrants themselves are paying the price.”
The policy change was done to “mitigate risks to both officer safety and vulnerable populations under these circumstances.”
“CPB is committed to effectively utilizing our resources to support border security operations and ongoing humanitarian efforts,” the agency said in a statement.
President Donald Trump said the growing number of migrants trying to sneak across the border amounts to a national emergency, justifying executive action to fund his long-promised wall. Democrats fought the emergency declaration but Trump vetoed the effort last week and lawmakers didn’t have enough votes to cancel out the veto, which was the first of Trump’s presidency.
The emergency declaration gives the Trump administration power to redirect federal dollars to build the wall.
Military bases in California could have their construction funding reallocated to the wall project, the Pentagon said Monday. The list released by the Department of Defense totals $1.1 billion for projects in California alone.
The focus will be on “lower priority military construction projects,” a senior administration official said.
Nielsen will join U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost and Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz in the Rio Grande Valley rename a border checkpoint in honor of Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega, who was killed while off duty in 2014.
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