Trump admin planning to fly immigrants to U.S. cities away from the border

The Department of Homeland Security is laying the groundwork on a plan to transport recent border crossers by plane to cities around the U.S. and release them after processing, according to two DHS officials familiar with the plan.

Local officials in South Florida said on Thursday that they were preparing for hundreds of immigrants to begin arriving in Broward County on a weekly basis.

Beyond South Florida, DHS is considering other areas around the country where immigrants can be released, the officials said.

One of the officials said they were looking at places with the capacity to process large numbers of immigrants, but declined to give further specifics on cities or regions under consideration.

Central American migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border must be processed before they can be released. Many make a claim for asylum, seeking the right to stay in the country to avoid persecution back home.

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Migrants trekking to the United States rely on faith
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Migrants trekking to the United States rely on faith

Pastor Jose Murcia, 47, preaches to migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018.

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Nicolas Alonso Sanchez, 47, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he holds a cross at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. "God helped me and gave me the strength, helped me to make my dreams come true. God gave me all the strength to get all the way here," Sanchez said. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., pray before food distribution outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico December 1, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Juan Francisco, 25, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., shows his tattoo of the 23rd Psalm of the Book of Psalms as he poses for a picture outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 26, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Victor Alfonso, 29, from Guatemala, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he wears charms depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 26, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

David Amador, 25, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he holds a cross at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 28, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., raise their hands while praying before moving by buses to a new shelter, in Tijuana, Mexico November 30, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

A migrant, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., is wrapped with a banner depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe in front of a riot police cordon, as migrants try to reach the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Herso, 17, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he wears a t-shirt depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018.

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

A booklet of Psalm 119:105 is left on a self-made tent at a temporary shelter of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico November 27, 2018.

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Migrants, part of a caravan from El Salvador traveling to the U.S., pray as they are blocked by the Mexican police during an operation to detain them for entering the country illegally, in Metapa, Mexico November 21, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., raise their hands as they listen to the preaching of pastor Jose Murcia (not pictured) outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

A migrant, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., sleeps with a book in Spanish "What does the Bible teach us?" in a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

A writing "Jesus Christ is the Lord" is seen on a car window outside a temporary shelter for a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Elmer, 29, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he holds an icon depicting Jesus Christ and the Virgin of Guadalupe while lining up for food distribution outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Juan Francisco, 25, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., shows his tattoo reading "I can do everything with Christ who strengthens me" as he poses for a picture outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 26, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

An image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is seen in a tent of migrants part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, on a street in Tijuana, Mexico, December 15, 2018.

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

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Customs and Border Protection would be responsible for identifying which migrants to put on planes bound for the interior of the country, and the agency would rely primarily on Immigration and Customs Enforcement airplanes.

There are no plans to detain migrants in the cities where they are released, the officials said. Officials in Broward County, Florida have expressed concern about migrants being released without "designated shelters or funding to house them, feed them, and keep them safe," according to a statement released Thursday.

A similar program is in place in Del Rio, Texas where immigrants have been airlifted from the Rio Grande Valley. CBP has said that the hundreds of immigrants released there are non-criminal families.

In both March and April, more than 100,000 undocumented immigrants crossed the border over the span of a month, numbers not seen in over 12 years.

Following news reports last month, President Donald Trump said he would consider sending immigrants specifically to so-called "sanctuary cities," where officials have limited cooperation between local law enforcement and ICE. The officials said the decisions being made now on where to transport migrants are not political and would not specifically target sanctuary cities.

Spokespeople for the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the plan to send immigrants to South Florida. They did not respond to a request for comment about a broader plan to fly immigrants to cities across the country.

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