FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are investigating a deal the Biden administration reached with civil rights groups over the separation of thousands of migrant family units at the southern border during the Trump administration — seeking information about what they say are “egregious” stipulations in the deal.
Chairman Jim Jordan and immigration subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock have written to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting documents about the settlement announced last month in a lawsuit launched by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute all illegal entries at the border. That policy resulted in the separation of minors from their parents before it was ultimately reversed.
The settlement would block any future separations for eight years, while also providing authorization for parents of separated children to come to the U.S. under humanitarian parole for three years and work in the United States. The families receive housing aid for up to a year as well as healthcare and legal aid.
“The practice of separating families at the southwest border was shameful. This agreement will facilitate the reunification of separated families and provide them with critical services to aid in their recovery,” Garland said in a statement at the time of the settlement.
But Jordan and McClintock accuse the administration of providing a “grab-bag of U.S. taxpayers-funded services” to illegal immigrants “all because in 2018 the U.S. government prosecuted, under the existing criminal code enacted by Congress, illegal aliens for illegally entering the United States with their children.”
“As if the Department’s stipulation is not egregious enough, the settlement also allows an illegal alien to escape criminal prosecution for illegally crossing the border solely because the alien is traveling with a child,” they say. “Because that legally dubious prohibition in the settlement lasts for eight years, it prevents future administrations from taking definitive steps to control the border.”
The lawmakers argue that it allows for a loophole to be exploited by cartels, amid an already ongoing crisis at the southern border, and say that it is already leading to cartels posing as minors’ relatives to ensure entry into the U.S.
“The settlement will no doubt have a similar effect, with both children and the American people left to suffer because of the perverse incentives of President Biden’s failed border policies,” they say.
They are requesting documents related to decisions to provide social services and limit prosecutions to migrants, documents related to the consideration of payments to class members, and an explanation for the legal basis for limiting future administrations from adopting similar policies.
Separately, the Committee has also sent letters to a number of officials in the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), seeking transcribed interviews with multiple officials and immigration judges over its handling of the enormous immigration court backlog.
They highlight statistics showing that nearly half a million cases were dismissed, terminated or closed between Jan 2021 and July 2023, which they say raises “serious questions” about whether the agency is “fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation’s immigration laws.
The letters come as the border continues to see sky-high numbers of migrants. There were more than 269,000 encounters in September, a new monthly record which also brought FY23 to the highest yearly encounter number on record. The Biden administration has called for more funding for border operations from Congress, including a recent $14 billion supplemental funding request.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.