Since March 2021, nearly 600,000 migrants who had crossed the U.S. southern border have been released within the boundaries of the U.S. without being charged or receiving a court date.
NBC News was the first to report on the data.
The decision to release migrants in this manner stemmed from record-breaking border crossings. The procedure also deviated from the previous administration’s protocol.
Previous protocol required migrants to receive charging documents, including their court date on entry into the U.S. The documents would be handed to migrants by Customs and Border Protection.
Without charging documents that include an accompanying court date, migrants remain in legal limbo. They cannot receive legal employment, nor are they aware that the one-year eligibility deadline for them to apply for asylum is approaching.
Lawyers have also pointed out that their migrant clients often enter the offices unaware of the next step in obtaining legal residence.
Migrant advocate group Al Otro Lado’s legal director, Karlyn Kurichety, explained that many migrants “who are here… really urgently want to seek asylum.”
Kurichety added that migrants “want their case heard as soon as possible,” noting that the 600,000 migrants “don’t want to be in limbo.”
Republicans’ criticism of the migrant crossing had focused primarily on their illegal crossing during a period when the court decided whether or not they could remain in the U.S. legally.
Yet, in March 2021, during an influx of migrants to the U.S., the CBP began issuing migrants with a notice to report — a date when they should present themselves to CBP offices — rather than a notice to appear — giving them a court date when a judge would decide their fate in the U.S.