ICE at ‘absolute breaking point’ with 53,000 migrants in custody, enforcement chief says

Nathalie Asher, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) official who oversees the deportation arm, said the U.S.-Mexico border is in “absolute crisis” that doesn’t appear to be ending “anytime soon.”

“It's all across the southwest border. The numbers are continuing to go north,” she said during an interview with Maria Bartiromo on “Mornings with Maria,” referring to new border surveillance video showing dozens of migrants causally walking around an unfinished border fence.

“Our partners in [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] are holding in the upwards of 19,000 people in their custody who are awaiting processing of which over 8,000 are single adults awaiting placement into detention facilities,” she said. “We in enforcement and removal operations are at an absolute, we've hit a breaking point -- we have close to 53,000 individuals in our custody -- this is a true crisis.”

Asher also confirmed that migrants from Guatemala and El Salvador are posing as families and renting children to cross the border, because of vulnerabilities to the system.

“There's no question we know to date at least 25 percent of those types of family units that are making a presence are fraudulent,” she said. “So again it's such an alarming situation. It's a crisis. It's a danger to children. And without changes to the laws without something more has to be done it's going to continue to get worse.”

ICE, unable to keep up with the sharp increase, will have released over 200,000 illegal family members into the U.S. by next week since December, Asher said.

“I think yesterday we were at 197 thousand,” she said adding that it’s all at the expense of interior enforcement.

“If I'm having to divert officers to do releases, I have more individuals in custody, we are also affected, and we’re not able to do our job to the interior. Our criminal arrests are down by almost 15 percent there without the consequences of arrest. The incentive is going to continue for these individuals to come to the United States,” she explained.


Bartiromo, in April, hosted a special episode of “Sunday Morning Futures” at the border in El Paso, Texas. An interview with border patrol agents was interrupted by illegal migrants crossing the border.