DHS says ‘no decision’ made on proposal to relocate migrants deeper into US

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The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday said that no decision had been made on a reported plan to relocate migrants deeper into the United States — as the Biden administration looks to handle the ongoing crisis at the southern border.

NBC News reported earlier Wednesday that the agency is planning to transport migrants awaiting their immigration hearings from border cities to deeper into the U.S. interior — and will begin transporting them to Los Angeles within weeks.

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Currently, migrants who are released into the U.S. and released to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which in turn help migrants secure and pay for flights and other forms of transportation to travel deeper into the country where they may have relatives or friends. If those NGOs are over capacity, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will work with local governments and cities to identify areas where migrants can access transport and housing

NBC reported that the plan, designed to stop overcrowding at the border cities amid the historic migrant numbers that the U.S. border has been seeing, would use federal money to send migrants to cities that could also include Albuquerque, Houston and Dallas via flights and buses.

June 7, 2022: Migrants, many from Central American and Venezuela, walk along the Huehuetan highway in Chiapas state, Mexico. The group left Tapachula on Monday, tired of waiting to normalize their status in a region with little work and still far from their ultimate goal of reaching the United States. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

June 7, 2022: Migrants, many from Central American and Venezuela, walk along the Huehuetan highway in Chiapas state, Mexico. The group left Tapachula on Monday, tired of waiting to normalize their status in a region with little work and still far from their ultimate goal of reaching the United States. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

A DHS spokesperson told Fox News Digital, in response to a query about the report, that a decision on the proposal has not yet been made but did not otherwise dispute NBC’s reporting.

“No decision has been made,” the spokesperson said. “Should a decision be made, DHS will continue to closely coordinate with and support cities and NGOs to facilitate the movement of any individual encountered at the Southwest border who is placed into removal proceedings pending the next steps in their immigration proceedings.”

The release of migrants into the interior as they go through their immigration proceedings is not unique to the Biden administration, but the administration has come under fire for the sheer number of migrants it has released into the U.S. — while also narrowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s priorities for who should be prioritized for deportation.

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There were more than 234,000 migrant encounters in April, a number that eclipses prior years. Approximately half of those were expelled via the Title 42 public health order. The Biden administration has been seeking to end the order, which has been in place since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — but that has so far been blocked by a federal judge in response to a lawsuit by two dozen Republican states.

DHS has stressed that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collects both biographic and biometric information from migrants, as well as background checks, while keeping any public safety risks in custody. 

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The administration recently began rolling out a new asylum rule which will cut down hearing times from over five years to months, but critics have warned that it risks leading to a lower bar for asylum claims and means that fewer will be rejected.

The new proposal has reportedly been referred to internally among DHS officials as the “Abbott plan” — a reference to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who championed busing migrants into Washington D.C. in response to the Biden administration’s border policies.