Normally, the Border Patrol would transfer the migrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be “processed” and in many cases placed in detention facilities. But officials said that both agencies have run out of space due to a recent influx of Central American families.
Immigrant advocates suggested the release was intended to create chaos at the border and further President Donald Trump’s argument that there is a national emergency there.
“Why do this now? It doesn’t make sense,” said Zenen Jaimes Perez, advocacy director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, which sent lawyers to the McAllen bus station to assist the migrants. “This is not something they’ve done before.”
A Border Patrol official — who spoke on the condition that he not be identified — denied that the release was a political stunt and said that crowding the facilities would threaten the safety of agents and migrants.
"It is a crisis," the agent insisted. "It's not a self-proclaimed crisis."