Thousands of illegal immigrants who spilled into border states earlier this year have “disappeared” from government tracking, according to a recent investigation by a Houston TV station.
96 percent of the more than 4,100 families released on recognizance and ordered deported did not show up to court.
The wave of unaccompanied children and women illegally crossing into the United States between July and October was so large that Border Patrol had to release thousands on their own recognizance due to lack of detention space.
Now, many of those ordered to be deported “can’t be found,” says investigative reporter Robert Arnold.
The Obama administration has repeatedly reinforced these cases as a top priority, yet the Houston TV station found that only a sliver have been sent home.
After six months of requests, the Executive Office of Immigration Review told Houston’s KPRC that 96 percent of the more than 4,100 families released on recognizance and ordered deported did not show up to court, prompting the government to classify them “in absentia.”
A similar 92 percent of the more than 1,600 unaccompanied children to be deported did not show up.
The Executive Office of Immigration Review usually reports an 11 percent to 15 percent annual “in absentia” rate, far below this year’s jump.
Among the thousands who were caught and detained by Border Patrol, the court process remains sluggish. A mere 22 percent of the more than 30,400 families and unaccompanied children caught have received a court decision.
This number could remain low for several months to years, as federal officials sift through the thousands of cases yet to be heard.