After record numbers of illegal aliens have flooded into the United States, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is working on plans to release thousands of illegal aliens from detention centers into the country. 

According to a report from The Washington Post, ICE is planning to mass release more than 16,000 illegal aliens into the country after Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats rejected a border measure supported by the Biden administration. The measure would have erased a $700 million budget shortfall but did not address Republicans’ concerns over the border crisis. 

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) posted to X saying that Senate Republicans were right in rejecting the legislation.

“Senate Republicans did the right thing by rejecting supplemental national security legislation that would not actually secure the border. I declared it would be dead on arrival in the House, and credit Senate Republicans for ensuring it was never sent over,” wrote Johnson. “Let me be clear, as I have been all along: National security begins by securing our own border. The House, and the American people, insist upon it.”

The legislation opposed by Republican lawmakers would have provided $6 billion in supplemental funding for ICE enforcement operations. After it was voted down, ICE officials began to circulate an internal proposal to deal with its budget shortfall by reducing detention levels from 38,000 beds to 22,000.

Meanwhile, House Republicans impeached Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week, claiming his failure to enforce federal immigration laws has hindered national security. Mayorkas will now face a trial in the U.S. Senate next month.

Texas Republican U.S. Rep. August Pfluger told The Texan that the mass releases of illegal aliens will cause harm to the safety of all Americans.

“The Biden Administration is making empty excuses and threatening the safety of Americans across the country. DHS and ICE have the funding, authority, and space to detain aliens, but are choosing to leave the American people vulnerable in the name of politics,” said Pfluger. “If the system truly is overwhelmed, this is yet another example of the need for the President to reverse his failed open border policies and shut down the border immediately.”

Meanwhile, other questions have been raised about who the administration is possibly removing from the detention centers. 

Todd Bensman, a senior national security fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies, told Texas Scorecard that there are many questions left unanswered about the situation. 

“It leaves an impression or perception, true or not, that this is kind of payback for the Senate not approving the bill that was proposed, and not about immigration,” said Bensman. “But the bigger question, I think is, you know, who are these people that are in custody, or in detention? What are their criminal histories? Why are they in detention?”  

“The administration started off with a moratorium on detention of every kind. The numbers of criminal aliens who have been detained and arrested is down by more than 50 percent, 70 percent since previous administrations and so, I mean, if there are any detained people, that would suggest that these are really bad criminals, repeat criminals, that there must be some among that population. And so if they’re going to inflict those criminals on the American people, then I think that that disclosure is required about who they are,” he added. 

When Biden first took office in January 2021, he ordered a temporary pause on ICE deportations. Arrests by ICE resulting in deportations have fallen from around 80,000 per year under the Trump administration to approximately 35,000 per year. 

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott is continuing to fight the Biden administration’s failing border policies. He recently signed a measure that would allow Texas law enforcement to arrest illegal aliens crossing into Texas. The law is set to take effect on March 5 but is currently being challenged by the Biden administration. 

Abbott has also secured 80 acres of land in Eagle Pass to build a base for Texas National Guard soldiers. The base will be able to house up to 1,800 soldiers and will have the ability to take in 500 additional troops, should Texas need to deploy the Texas Tactical Border Force in the area. 

“Texas is expanding our border security capabilities by building a new Texas Military Department base camp to increase and improve border security operations in this area,” said Abbott. “This will increase the ability for a larger number of Texas Military Department soldiers in Eagle Pass to operate more effectively and efficiently.”

Texas Scorecard reached out to ICE but did not receive a response by publication. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.