The Department of Homeland Security is planning to transport illegal immigrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to cities across the United States in an effort to relieve overcrowding along the border, internal documents obtained by NBC News revealed on Wednesday.
The plan comes at a time when illegal immigrants are crossing the border in record numbers, including 234,088 in April alone, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The massive influx of illegal immigrants is overwhelming shelters managed by religious and nongovernmental organizations at the border, which typically take in illegal immigrants after they are released from CBP custody.
The DHS’ new plan uses federal funds to transport illegal immigrants farther into the U.S. where they can live as they await immigration proceedings. According to NBC, the destinations include Los Angeles, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Houston and Dallas, Texas; as well as other cities.
The shelters located in each city are already aware of the DHS’ new model. The Southwest Border Coordination Center is organizing the effort using officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP, and more agencies.
DHS officials have reportedly referred to the effort as the “Abbott plan,” referring to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s idea to transport illegal immigrants by bus from the Texas border to Washington, D.C.
A department spokesman said in a statement that “no decision has been made” about transporting illegal immigrants to cities away from the Southern border.
“Should a decision be made, DHS will continue to closely coordinate with and support cities and NGOs to facilitate the movement of any individual encountered at the Southwest border who is placed into removal proceedings pending the next steps in their immigration proceedings,” the spokesman said.
The CBP has already recorded 1,295,900 illegal immigrant arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border in FY 2022. Last year, the agency shattered the yearly record with 1,734,686 arrests.
A recent report from the Center for Immigration Studies showed that the U.S. added over 2 million immigrants to its population under President Joe Biden, with the majority of newcomers arriving in the United States illegally.
Of the 2 million, the Center estimates that two-thirds – or 1.35 million – of the immigrants were illegal.
“As a share of the total population, the foreign-born now account for 14.3 percent of the population, or one in seven U.S. residents — the highest percentage in 112 years. As recently as 1990 they were one in 13 U.S. residents,” the study added.