By: Jennie Taer, Daily Caller News Foundation
A bill congressional Democrats are proposing that would force immigration authorities to release migrants who say they’re part of the LGBTQ community would be ripe for fraud and abuse, four Border Patrol agents, who requested anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, which was introduced by Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, would force federal authorities to not detain “vulnerable” migrants, including those who claim to be LGBTQ, according to the text of the bill. The four border agents, who all work along the southern border with Mexico, believe that migrants are likely to see this as a new opportunity to get released into the country and will lie about their sexuality or gender to do so, they told the DCNF.
“I’ve only seen a handful of LGBTQ [migrants], but if this is passed I guarantee everyone is going to be LGBTQ,” one agent told the DCNF.
The bill would “create a presumption of release and impose a higher burden of proof to detain primary caregivers and vulnerable populations, including asylum seekers, pregnant women, LGBTQ individuals, survivors of torture or gender-based violence, and people under age 21,” the congressmembers said in a joint statement April 20. The latest version is Democrats’ effort to reintroduce what they tried to pass in the last Congress when they held a majority in both chambers.
The text of the bill states that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the only authority that can make an exception to choose to keep an LGBTQ migrant in detention.
All of the Border Patrol agents who spoke to the DCNF predicted migrants would abuse the bill’s authority, if it’s passed into law, to ensure they’re not detained.
“I feel like it’s just another incentive or tool for them to use to get into our country, with no restrictions. They would be backed by our own government approval, which will only encourage more illegal entry and a reason to gain free entry,” a second agent told the DCNF.
Another agent said that it would grant preferential treatment to anyone claiming to be part of the LGBTQ community.
“Many of them … would think they would getter better treatment, expedited processing or complete immunity when it came down to their court date,” a third agent told the DCNF.
“Someone told them in essence ‘just say you’re gay,’” the third agent said, adding “I think it’s a joke. No one gets special treatment down here. They are all breaking the law and have to go through detainment and processing just like anyone else.”
However, Immediate Past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Allen Orr believes that agents’ arguments are implausible, he told the DCNF.
“Screening individuals who show up at the border for the veracity of their information is what the Border Patrol officers are supposed to do,” Orr told the DCNF.
“These individuals who are coming from these heavily Catholic countries are unlikely to claim that they are gay or lesbian, or trans or bi, for the mere reason that it may later cause reason for their death and attack by people within their family,” Orr said.
Border Patrol agents stationed along the southern border have encountered record numbers of migrants crossing illegally. In fiscal year 2022, agents recorded more than 2.2 million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had 66 migrants who identified as transgender in custody as of April 10, according to agency data.
“It feels like a slap in the face to Border Patrol Agents. We’ve literally been wondering how much worse things can get under the Biden Administration. As well as the complacent upper echelon of leadership at Border Patrol Headquarters in DC. The administration has effectively ‘incentivized’ for migrants to illegally enter the US, fraudulently claim asylum & credible fear. Wait a few days in custody & then be flown or bussed to a ‘sponsor’ that will house or look after them until they supposedly show up for their court date, which they won’t,” a fourth agent told the DCNF.
“This newest proposed legislation, is at its core, another attempt to collapse the system, one that is already collapsing under its own weight. Migrants will just now claim to be LGBT+ to further avoid removal proceedings. It will be abused, just like … ‘asylum’ is already,” the agent added.
The offices of Jayapal, Booker and Smith didn’t respond to requests for comment.