FIRST ON FOX: A group of Republican senators are seeking information from the Department of Homeland Security about the destinations cited by illegal immigrants who are being processed and released into the U.S. — amid concerns that “sanctuary” cities are driving the ongoing migrant crisis.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the senators — led by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., — requests information on which cities migrants are listing as “current address” when they are issued a Notice to Appear (NTA).
Migrants are typically given an NTA, which gives them a court date for their asylum hearing based on their intended destination, when they are apprehended and processed by Border Patrol. The lawmakers are concerned that cities with “sanctuary” policies may be driving the ongoing border crisis.
“We are deeply concerned that sanctuary jurisdictions are serving as a pull factor for illegal immigrants and for criminal aliens. This failure to comply with federal law creates an incentive for illegal immigrants to travel to the United States and avoid accountability by moving to sanctuary jurisdictions,” they say.
The other senators on the letter are Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Mike Braun, R-Ind., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“Sanctuary” policies limit cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and will frequently also be accompanied by a number of related policies deemed to be more welcoming to those in the country illegally.
The debate over sanctuary policies, which raged during the Trump administration, has fired up again with the moves by Republican states at or near the border to transport migrants to sanctuary jurisdictions like Chicago, New York City and Washington D.C.. Those who support sanctuary policies say they allow otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants to cooperate with law enforcement. Opponents say that it allows for the release of criminals back onto the streets (rather than have them deported) and encourages illegal migration.
“Sanctuary city policies are dangerous and threaten public safety,” the senators write. “Sanctuary cities and jurisdictions simply release dangerous, criminal aliens instead of complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests. These policies prevent law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration officials and allow dangerous, violent criminal aliens to walk free without fear of deportation.”
They note recent apprehensions of criminals, including sex offenders and gang members, as well as enormous drug seizures at the border as signs of the safety concerns that come with the crisis. In their letter, they request the destinations listed as “current address” in NTAs in the last two fiscal years, as well as details about the process to check that immigrants go to their destinations.
The Biden administration has repeatedly claimed that the border is “secure,” with Vice President Kamala Harris being the most recent high-profile official to make that claim — a statement met with extreme skepticism by Republicans
Whether or not the border is assessed to be secure, the numbers coming to the border are showing little sign of slowing down. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data released on Monday showed that there were again more than 200,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in August — taking the total for the fiscal year above two million.