(KGTV) - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said a procedural change will allow for the expedited release of migrant families being held at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Under the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, detained migrant families or children are to be released from U.S. government custody within a 20-day period.
However, with the increase in migrant families arriving at the border, the Department of Justice in July asked that the 20 days of detention be extended. That request was quickly denied by a judge .
Before a family or minor’s release, ICE officials would typically arrange a review of their “post-release plan,” which included “travel arrangements to reach a final destination within the United States.”
However, as of Oct. 23, ICE officials said they have stopped conducting the reviews and “family units that are released will be enrolled in a form of ICE’s Alternatives to Detention or released on another form of supervision.”
Additionally, officials said migrants “will be issued a Notice to Appear in immigration court, as appropriate. ICE continues to work with local and state officials and NGO (non-governmental organization) partners in the area so they are prepared to provide assistance with transportation or other services.”
ICE officials said the decision to change their procedure was “due to the recent uptick in family units presenting themselves along the Southwest border.” Officials added that ICE “no longer has the capacity to conduct these reviews without risking violation of the Flores limitations on lengths of stay for families in both CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and ICE custody.”
Border Patrol officials said the number of unaccompanied migrant minors apprehended at the San Diego sector of the border rose from 1,551 in 2017 to 2,491 in 2018 -- an increase of 61 percent .
From Oct. 2017 to Sept. 2018 , BP officials said there have been 396,579 migrant apprehensions at the Southwest Border.