The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is a sub-agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE recently announced it is detaining 52,000 immigrants in jails and prisons around the United States. Congress has only appropriated funding to manage a daily average of around 45,000 beds until the end of September 2019. This discrepancy in the number of people in detention and the money allocated to appropriately detain them resulted in DHS taking funds away from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, among other agencies, and reallocating the funds to ICE’s detention efforts.
ICE can stop taking money that should go to disaster relief efforts and our military forces right now, by using a tool they are statutorily authorized with called “parole.” Any person who presents themselves at a port of entry and makes a claim for asylum that is confirmed by a positive CFI will be detained “for further consideration of the[ir] application for asylum.” 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b)(1)(B)(ii). This statute further states that persons in this specific category shall remain in detention for the entirety of their applicable proceedings.” Jennings v. Rodriguez, 138 S. Ct. 830, 845 (2018). This means that the only mechanism for these people to seek release from custody is to ask the DHS for their release. This process is known as seeking “parole,” and it was authorized by Congress for the Attorney General to decide parole claims on a “case-by-case” basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(5)(A)
To effectively implement and adjudicate parole claims, ICE’s regulations allow five different subsets of people to qualify for parole. This includes those that seek parole for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit.”
According to ICE data, in 2016, the New Orleans ICE Field Office granted parole in 75.9% of cases. In 2018, the New Orleans ICE Field Office granted parole in fewer than 2% of cases. The parole grant rate of New Orleans ICE Field Offices in 2018 was the lowest of any ICE field office in the United States. There are ICE field offices around the United States that could immediately ease the pressure on the United States budget by making use of parole. ICE is directly involved and has final say over who receives parole from their custody; they could ensure that parole is used for deserving cases. We have mechanisms in place to relieve the costs of our immigration policies. We can stop pick-pocketing from other important federal agencies in the name of detaining more people by using the tools at our disposal.