AG Knudsen joins coalition in demanding Biden administration stop catch-and-release at southern border

AG Knudsen joins coalition in demanding Biden administration stop catch-and-release at southern border

HELENA — Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen joined a coalition of 27 attorneys general in demanding the Biden administration correct course and stop releasing illegal immigrants crossing at the wide-open southern border into the United States.

In a petition for rulemaking submitted Tuesday to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the attorneys general urge DHS to amend its unlawful policies to expressly prohibit the mass release of inadmissible immigrants into the U.S. by closing the catch-and-release loophole the administration is exploiting to allow it. Earlier this year, a judge in Florida ruled that the Biden administration’s catch-and-release policy is unlawful but, the administration continues to ignore the ruling and release the immigrants into the country.

“As a federal court recently found, you and President Biden have implemented a ‘non-detention policy’ for aliens illegally entering our country, and that policy is the cause of our current border crisis,” the attorneys general wrote. “The purpose of this Petition to Initiate Rulemaking, 5 U.S.C. § 553(e); 6 C.F.R. §§ 3.1-3.9, is to demand that you fix the problem you created. Specifically, you should promulgate changes to your regulations to close the catch-and-release loophole that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently exploiting to implement its mass release policy at the Southwest Border.”

DHS is releasing aliens at the southern border under section 1226(a) of the regulation in question, which “applies to ‘certain aliens already in the country’” – not aliens who are caught crossing the border illegally. The section also does not require detention. However, section “1225(b) requires detention of applicants for admission at the Southwest Border” which the Florida court explained in their ruling.

“And all the amendment needs to say is something to the effect of ‘aliens who are subject to § 1225(b) because they meet the definition of ‘applicant for admission’ in§ 1225(a) may not be released under§ 1226(a) because that provision does not apply to them,’” the petition states. “In other words, the amendment should clarify that§ 1225 and§ 1226 do not overlap but ‘apply to different classes of aliens.’”

The Biden administration’s intentional dismantling of border security has resulted in more than seven million inadmissible immigrants surging across the border. Under their current flawed regulations, Border Patrol released 100,585 aliens at the southwest border in August 2023 alone. If the numbers remain the same, DHS is releasing aliens at a rate of over one million per year, but the attorneys general anticipate that the numbers in September were even higher.

DHS is also giving the migrants released under the unlawful practices a court date many years in the future, allowing millions of unauthorized immigrants to remain in the U.S. for 15 years or longer before ever approaching a judge’s bench.

“While we may disagree on a great many things, we hope we agree that DHS must follow the law. We ask you to grant this petition and initiate rulemaking,” the attorneys general wrote. “If you disagree with our legal position and with the legal position of the court in Florida, or if you disagree that DHS must follow the law, we ask that you promptly deny this petition on that basis so that we may seek judicial review.”

Attorney General Knudsen joined attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming in signing the petition sponsored by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Click here to read the petition.

Since taking office, Attorney General Knudsen has been working to stop illegal immigration and urging the Biden administration to secure the southern border. Most recently, he joined a coalition of attorneys general in asking the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reverse a district court’s ruling ordering Texas to remove a buoy barrier along the Texas-Mexico border meant to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into the United States.

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