A 2015 court ruing in the Flores settlement agreement mandated ICE not hold a child, including if the child is accompanied by a parent, more than 20 days, forcing the agency to release massive numbers of people because immigration judges cannot hear new cases for two to five years.
A person applying for asylum this month is in line with approximately 900,000 cases in front of him or her. Families released from custody may live in any part of the U.S. while they await their court date.
ICE could not provide information on the percentage of people who claimed asylum after being taken into custody or being turned away at a border crossing. However, an ICE official said the 218,400 individuals would have been given a Notice To Appear in federal immigration court at a future date, where a judge would decide his or her request to remain in the country.
The greatest number of people were released in the San Antonio region. Approximately 82,300 family units were released in central Texas.
Another 74,700 people were turned loose in El Paso, Texas. Phoenix has permitted 41,000 migrants held there to go free, and San Diego has released 20,400 people.