William La Jeunesse, Fox News, June 23, 2015
Tens of thousands of illegal immigrant women and children streamed across the U.S. border last year seeking asylum and protected status, claiming a “credible fear” of going home to the violence in Central America. President Obama addressed the crisis through increased border enforcement, more detention beds, more immigration judges and pressure on political leaders in their home countries.
But a year later, new data obtained exclusively by Fox News shows the policy isn’t stopping the influx. Not only are illegal immigrant women and children continuing to cross the border in large numbers, but the majority charged with crimes aren’t even showing up for court.
“That strategy is obviously a complete failure because such a high percentage of these people who were not detained have simply melted into the larger illegal population and have no fear of immigration enforcement,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.
Statistics released by the Department of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review show 84 percent of those adults with children who were allowed to remain free pending trial absconded, and fewer than 4 percent deported themselves voluntarily.
The data set, requested by Fox News, underscores the dilemma facing immigration officials. While the ACLU and more than 100 lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to close federal detention centers, which they consider inhumane and unacceptable on legal and moral grounds, releasing the women and children to relatives and charities virtually guarantees they will fall off the federal government’s radar.
“Now that we see that 85 percent of the people who were not detained before their immigration hearings do not show up for these hearings, that illustrates the need for detention,” Vaughan said.
The data set from the Department of Justice looks at all women and children detained from Central America beginning July 18, 2014, when Obama declared the immigrants to be an enforcement priority and ordered the courts to treat them on a priority basis.
Since then, ICE detained 83,385 adults and children, and immigration courts completed 24,842 cases. Of those, more than 64 percent, or 16,136, didn’t show up for court, and fewer than 4 percent, or 908, agreed to leave voluntarily.
Among adults with children not detained, 25,000 have had their initial appearance; 13,000 are still in the system, and 12,000 have had their cases completed. Of the cases completed, 10,000 failed to appear.
But compare the number of removals for women and children who were detained against those who were not. Among those families who were allowed to remain free after their initial appearance in court, 84 percent never showed up again for their case. They remain free, scattered in cities across America. By contrast, almost all of those detained did show up before a judge.