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ICE To Provide Advance Notice Of Large Scale Migrant Releases

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro addresses a town hall of local residents wanting to know more about the migrant release

This story originally aired on December 13th.

Of the hundreds of Central American women and children released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, only 17 remain in San Antonio. One local congressman says ICE is accepting the blame for releasing so many at once.

Last week, 470 immigrants who were in the country without authorization were released in the middle of the night from South Texas detention centers. Most of those women and children have traveled on and are now with family in other parts of the United States. They will then have asylum hearings. 

Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a San Antonio Democrat, met this weekend with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and City of San Antonio staff to discuss the possibility of future mass releases.

“They accepted responsibility for a major failing last weekend and say that will not re-occur again”

Doggett says ICE officials told him there was a failure in the way the releases were handled.

“Pointing in some cases to personnel involved, to the fact that they did have a big increase people coming into Karnes and Dilley; that they needed to relieve by having people come out.”

Doggett says he received a commitment from ICE that people would not be released overnight and there would be 24 hours’ notice to refugee assistance groups.

An official statement from ICE says the high number of people released was not unusual. However, what was unusual is that many of those released hadn’t made their travel arrangements. That resulted in organizations like RAICES having to step in and provide emergency shelter and meals. ICE confirms it will work with the City and other organizations on future releases.

“ICE is coordinating efforts with the City of San Antonio and local NGOs to provide advance notice to appropriate parties before the release of large numbers of people who will need shelter services. ICE will also provide notice in advance of release for large numbers of family units who have made domestic travel arrangements and will be transported to a bus station or airport. ICE is also committed to ensuring that those transported to a bus station or airport have the appropriate travel arrangements in place to minimize the amount of time (especially overnight) spent in a public transportation hub.”

ICE maintains that the release was not connected to a recent court ruling that found that the detention centers in Karnes City and Dilley could not be regulated as childcare facilities.

As of December 13th, the total number of family detainees still in ICE facilities is:

·         Berks total population: 85

·         Karnes total population: 606

·         South Texas total population: 1,884