EXCLUSIVE: A sudden influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico requesting asylum is overwhelming immigration agents in San Diego, forcing agencies to rent hotel rooms for some undocumented families and release others to cities around the U.S.
Documents obtained exclusively by Fox News show Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been paying for hotel rooms for dozens of recently arrived families to relieve overcrowding inside the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, Calif., processing centers. Some ICE employees are working overtime and others have been asked to volunteer to work weekend shifts. "Duties include intake, placements, transports and release of family groups and unaccompanied minors," according to a memo obtained by Fox News.
The surge has raised suspicions about what is driving the influx, amid claims that illegal immigrants have learned they can attempt to get asylum by using a few key words -- namely, by claiming they have a "credible fear" of drug cartels.
"This clearly has to have been orchestrated by somebody," said former U.S. Attorney for Southern California Peter Nunez. "It's beyond belief that dozens or hundreds or thousands of people would simultaneously decide that they should go to the U.S. and make this claim."
Sources say one day last week, 200 border-crossers came through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry claiming asylum while and as many as 550 overflowed inside the processing center there and in nearby San Ysidro.
"People were sleeping on floors – they had nowhere to put them," said one source, a long-time border agent and supervisor. "This shouldn't be happening. Unless there is an immediate and well-publicized policy change, this situation will become another debacle."
At a hotel near San Diego -- which Fox News agreed not to identify for security reasons -- ICE vans arrived several times over the weekend with immigrant families. They were escorted to the second floor by two armed, uniformed agents. Two border agents secured the entrance and side door.
Documents obtained by Fox News show that recently on a single day, dozens of illegal immigrants were being transferred to an area hotel where rooms cost $99 a night. Others were released to addresses in Texas, Florida and even Brooklyn, N.Y.
ICE sources say the addresses are almost always bogus. When they don't show up for court, they are removed by an immigration judge in absentia.
Most of the immigrants came from Mexico, but others listed their native country as Haiti, Romania, Guatemala and Iraq. Some were over age 50, others were under a year old. Thirty were transported to a hotel. Seventy were released around the country.
Contact the lawyers at Revilla Law Firm, P.A., for any immigration matter. We offer a free initial consultation in our Miami office. Call us at (305) 858-2323 or toll free (877) 854-2323.