Leaked Memo: Border Patrol Receives New Guidance on Illegal Immigrants

Leaked Memo: Border Patrol Receives New Guidance on Illegal Immigrants

Border Patrol agents drive past illegal immigrants in Otay Mesa, Calif., on Feb. 29, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Brad Jones
Brad Jones


Updated: 6/13/2024


A leaked internal U.S. Border Patrol memo directed San Diego sector agents to release illegal immigrants from most countries into the United States, one day after President Joe Biden issued a June 4 executive order limiting asylum claims at the southern border.
The June 5 memo, obtained by The Epoch Times, states at the top, “Keep this reference for the Presidential Proclamation.”
It instructs agents to release into the United States single adults from “easy to remove” countries in the western hemisphere on their own recognizance with notices to appear in court, except for those from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Single adults from “hard or very hard to remove countries” in the eastern hemisphere were also to be released, except those from Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Georgia, Moldova, and Kyrgyzstan, which are considered “mandatory referral” countries set for expedited removal.
Agents were instructed to release all family units, except those from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, and the Dominican Republic.
Manny Bayon, a San-Diego based spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, said the memo currently applies nationwide to illegal border crossers affected by President Biden’s executive order and will be enforced as policy until new guidance is issued.
“If [the Biden administration] makes a determination to close the border, I’m sure there will be new rules and policy guidance provided,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment about the memo.

Asylum Backlog

According to President Biden’s executive order, illegal immigrants will be denied asylum if Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas makes a “factual determination” that the average daily illegal border crossings has exceeded 2,500 per day for seven consecutive days.
According to Border Patrol data, the number of illegal border crossings has exceeded this threshold for the last seven days.
President Biden said the executive order aims to “make it easier for immigration officers to remove those without a lawful basis to remain and reduce the burden on our Border Patrol agents.”
Those who cross illegally will be restricted from receiving asylum unless they enter through a legal port of entry.
Stressing that asylum claims are backlogged for six years, President Biden said his executive action will help the federal government “gain control of our border” and “restore order to the process.”
The president said he would have preferred bipartisan legislation.
On June 9, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised the executive order, saying there are “positive” early signs that it’s working to bring down the number of daily illegal border crossings.
As of June 11, there were nearly 10,000 adults held at illegal immigrant processing facilities nationwide and nearly 2,200 illegal immigrants detained in the San Diego sector alone, according to Border Patrol sources.
Nearly 10 million illegal immigrants have entered the country during the Biden administration, according to the latest data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

San Diego County Reaction

Last week, San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells dismissed the executive order as “political theater” preceding the Nov. 5 presidential election.
Thousands of illegal immigrants continue to enter San Diego County, Mr. Desmond said in a June 10 statement.
The executive order is “a façade, offering the illusion of security” that doesn’t deal with “the real issues” at the southern border, he said.
Mr. Wells told The Epoch Times he doesn’t believe the Biden administration is serious about curbing illegal immigration and that San Diego-area residents “deserve real solutions, not empty gestures,” to ensure public safety.
“I don’t think it’s going to slow down whatsoever.”
Mr. Bayon, the union spokesman, told The Epoch Times that Border Patrol agents were “hit hard” with more than 300 illegal immigrants in the early morning on June 4 near Jacumba, California, about 70 miles southeast of San Diego, and another 200 that crossed near Imperial Beach.
With close to 2,700 adults at the processing center in San Diego on June 4, the facility was at 99 percent capacity, he said.
“The American public needs to know that we can only hold them 72 hours and that’s it. Then they’re street released,” Mr. Bayon said.

Diplomatic Differences

Todd Bensman, a senior fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and former manager of counterterrorism for the Texas Department of Public Safety, told the Epoch Times the internal memo shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“They’re not going to expend the diplomatic muscle to force those countries to accept these immigrants back,” he said.
Mr. Bensman said the administration should impose economic sanctions on countries that refuse to cooperate in taking their citizens back.
“That’s all it takes,” he said. He predicted the executive order would likely get “tangled up” in litigation and possibly blocked by the courts.
On June 12, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that it joined several immigrants’ rights groups in filing a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the executive order.
“The administration lacks unilateral authority to override Congress and bar asylum based on how one enters the country, a point the courts made crystal clear when the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried a near-identical ban,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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