Officials in the Obama administration know how many immigrant families who have entered the US illegally have been released, but they refuse to disclose that number. According to the AP it is thought to be in the tens of thousands.
Senior U.S. officials directly familiar with the issue, including at the Homeland Security Department and White House, have so far dodged the answer on at least seven occasions over two weeks, alternately saying that they did not know the figure or didn’t have it immediately at hand. “We will get back to you,” the Homeland Security deputy secretary said Friday.
The figure is widely believed to exceed 40,000 since October. It’s believed to be slightly below the roughly 52,000 children caught traveling illegally from Central America over the same period, an extraordinary increase since last year that is driving a humanitarian crisis at the border.
Despite promises to the contrary, this is how it looks when the image-conscious Obama administration doesn’t want to reveal politically sensitive information that could influence an important policy debate. The mystery figure is significant because the number of families caught crossing from Central America represents a large share of new immigration cases that will further strain the overwhelmed U.S. immigration courts system. It also affects federal enforcement strategy, such as where to deploy the border patrol, and political calculations about whether Congress or the White House will relax American immigration laws or regulations before upcoming congressional elections in November.
Most of the immigrant families are from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala and cannot be immediately repatriated, so the government has been releasing them into the U.S. interior and telling them to report within 15 days to the nearest U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement offices. Despite promises for better transparency on immigration issues, the administration has been unwilling to say how many immigrant families it’s released — hundreds or thousands — or how many of those subsequently reported back to the government after 15 days as directed. (Read More)
In related news, the federal government has plans to convert an old warehouse near the Rio Grande into a facility to house thousands of the immigrant children flooding across our border. Oh, and DHS placed an order for thousands of pairs of underwear.