The failure of the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security to carry out the most basic enforcement of U.S. immigration laws has led to skyrocketing crime and drug deaths, a Republican senator told The Daily Signal.
“While illegal immigration and the resulting fentanyl overdose deaths and violent crime continue to skyrocket, the Biden administration must immediately stop its abdication of basic immigration enforcement,” Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., said Tuesday in a written statement.
“Too many lives and livelihoods hang in the balance,” Hagerty told The Daily Signal.
A day earlier, Hagerty led a letter in which he and six other Republican senators pressed embattled Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to explain why more than 63,500 removal cases against illegal immigrants were dismissed in 2022 because the department failed to issue proper documents.
The Department of Homeland Security failed to properly file tens of thousands of “Notice to Appear” documents, also known as NTAs, to illegal immigrants before their scheduled court hearings.
A Notice to Appear is part of the DHS catch-and-release policy, which obligates an illegal alien to show up for a date with an immigration court if he or she isn’t detained.
“What caused this substantial spike in incidences of DHS officials not filing an NTA after you took office and, consequently, tens of thousands of immigration cases against illegal aliens being dismissed because of DHS’s failure to file paperwork?” the letter to Mayorkas from the seven Senate Republicans says.
Besides Hagerty, signers of the letter include Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, Texas’ Ted Cruz, South Dakota’s Mike Rounds, Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson.
In fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, a total of 63,586 removal cases were dismissed, which amounts to 16% of all such cases, the senators wrote. Fiscal year 2021 saw a 10% increase in the number of failures to issue Notices to Appear, but the letter doesn’t specify the total number of cases dismissed.
The seven GOP senators wrote Mayorkas:
Importantly, even if a hearing is scheduled, jurisdiction with the [immigration] court does not vest until the NTA is filed with the court—meaning that if an NTA is not filed, the immigration court is forced to dismiss the case against the alien, as a result of which the alien remains in the United States illegally with no immigration proceeding pending.
Little information has been provided regarding why this mistake is occurring and how DHS will remedy it.
Hagerty and the other senators wrote to Mayorkas as Biden’s homeland security secretary faces intense security over his department’s handling of the border, where a sharply rising number of illegal aliens seeking asylum or escaping arrest has created a crisis.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who hopes to be the next speaker of the House, has said the new GOP majority would consider articles of impeachment against Mayorkas, who took over DHS on Feb. 2, 2021.
The Department of Homeland Security declined to respond to an inquiry from The Daily Signal, asserting that the agency answers members of Congress through official channels, not the press.
The senators asked Mayorkas to respond by Dec. 23 to nine questions. They include:
—“Have there been any directives or memoranda to DHS employees regarding NTAs during the course of the Biden administration?”
—“Have there been any organizational changes within DHS that impact the filing of NTAs with immigration courts?”
—“Has DHS sought to reschedule the 63,586 cases that have been dismissed during FY 2022 for failure to file an NTA?”
—“What is the estimated cost to taxpayers of wasted immigration court time, rescheduling 63,586 cases that have been dismissed during FY 2022, and other expenses associated with those individuals whose cases were dismissed for DHS’s failure to file an NTA?”
If a Notice to Appear is not available or in need of correction at the time of a hearing in immigration court, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the regular practice is to correct the deficiency and resubmit the notice, or issue a new NTA so that cases may resume and migrants may continue with their obligation to appear before an immigration court at a later date
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is working with another agency within DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to ensure that forms are completed properly under legal requirements to reduce such incidents, DHS says.
Also according to DHS, when an illegal immigrant is released provisionally awaiting a court proceeding, he or she receives information on where to check in with ICE. This includes information on properly reporting a change of address and receiving news regarding an individual case.
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