Despite propagating hardline immigration rhetoric, the Trump administration released nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants into the United States general population last year.
In fiscal year 2019, which ran from October 2018 to September 2019, Border Patrol agents detained 851,508 immigrants who illegally entered the U.S. via Mexico. Of those, more than half, 473,682, arrived with family members, Customs and Border Protection data showed.
According to the Washington Examiner, more than 375,000 immigrants who were detained as part of family units were later released directly into the U.S, including 145,000 who were released directly from Border Patrol stations between March and September.
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Border Patrol made the unusual move last March of releasing people directly from its custody rather than turning people over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE cited two issues that made it difficult to hold families: it lacked the bed space and a 2015 court ruling blocked it from detaining families more than 20 days.
Because the 145,000 family members released by Border Patrol were not transferred to ICE, they were released with a legal document known as a notice to appear. The document states when they should show up for a hearing to determine if they will be returned to the county of origin. An additional 230,000 family members were sent to ICE and then released from ICE facilities, according to an ICE spokesperson.
In total, ICE deported 267,258 illegal immigrants last year, agency data showed.
The Examiner reported that just 5,702 of those deported had arrived to the U.S. with family, showing that immigrants who illegally enter as a family unit are much less likely to be deported.
Although illegal immigration spikes every spring and summer, illegal immigration was down significantly at the end of last year, likely a result of Mexico's increased efforts to combat illegal migration.