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Shelters concerned by lack of coordination after release of undocumented families

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has acknowledged it will be changing the way it processes migrant families who illegally enter the US, no longer reviewing the families’ post-release plans before releasing them into the general public.

ICE officials told ABC-7 it currently needs to review where a migrant family was going before they were released. “ICE previously reviewed their post-release plan, including insuring they had secured travel arrangements to reach a final destination within the United States. There is no requirement that this review be conducted, it was a self-imposed process instituted by ICE,” officials said in a statement emailed to ABC-7.

ICE said the change is due to the increase in migrant families coming to the US, acknowledging it no longer has the capacity to conduct these reviews without risking violation of the Flores limitations on lengths of stay for families in Border Patrol or ICE custody.

The curtailing of all post-release reviews for immigrant families started on October 23, 2018. The families will be issued a notice to appear in immigration court, then released.

“For us, it is a new policy, because up to now, we’ve not had, we’ve not been aware of any way of people being released to the street,” said Ruben Garcia with Annunciation House, a shelter for migrants in South El Paso.

According to Garcia, Border Patrol or ICE previously provided transportation for immigrants. Now, Garcia believes, ICE will no longer do that and rely on different agencies to provide assistance with transportation or other services.

Right now, Annunciation house is partnering with hotels and churches to provide housing for immigrants released by ICE. Garcia says the border is currently going through a surge of immigrants flooding to the border.

Garcia says that by the end of this week, they will have taken in as many as 1,500 families, which they consider to be record numbers.

The surge in migrants entering the US comes as a large caravan of Central Americans left Honduras, bound for the US with a group estimated at 7,000 people.

As the caravan travels through Mexico, it has dwindled to nearly 4,000. Mexican officials report nearly 1,700 members of the caravan decided to seek asylum in Mexico. Hundreds more accepted offers to be bused back to their home countries.

Garcia says Mexican officials reported the group of nearly four thousand has splintered and some of its members are headed to different border towns, like El Paso.

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