ICE chief: 9th Circuit partly to blame for rise in illegal immigration

Recent rulings from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals are a major contributing factor in the sharp rise in the number of family units and unaccompanied minors that have made the trek from Central America to the United States' southwest border in the last few months, according to Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan.

"I think the uptick right now is on the family units, especially the family units and the UACs. And that uptick is because of the loopholes in the system and some of the decisions by the 9th Circuit," Homan told the Washington Examiner at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, Texas, Wednesday.

"When you get a recent court decision saying you can only detain a family for so many days, when there's constant repeals and temporary restraining orders, people seeing the administration getting their hands tied, they see it as an opportunity," he added. "I think that's more of a driving factor in the recent populations."

Last July, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 1997 lawsuit settlement that guaranteed court hearings for unaccompanied minors and created a policy that favored their release.

Homan, who has worked in law enforcement for more than three decades, said he has found that any time amnesty is being discussed in the U.S., border agents can expect to see an increase in the number of migrants being apprehended near the southwest border.

However, family units and unaccompanied minors are treated differently than illegal immigrant adults who are caught at the border. Children and families from noncontiguous countries are detained and sent through immigration proceedings so a judge can determine if they are refugees. That policy is part of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

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