posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 08:08 PM
U.S. Border Patrol agents have been granted new powers by the Department of Homeland Security. Previously, when illegal immigrants were found, they
were detained and then handed over to an immigration court. There a judge heard pleas for asylum and made the decision to export or allow the
individual to remain in the country. Starting this month, border patrol agents will be able to make this decision on their own.
Citing concerns about terrorists crossing the nation's land borders, the Department of Homeland Security announced today that it planned to give
border patrol agents sweeping new powers to deport illegal aliens from the frontiers abutting Mexico and Canada without providing the aliens the
opportunity to make their case before an immigration judge.
"There is a concern that as we tighten the security of our ports of entry through our biometric checks that there will be more opportunity or more
effort made by terrorists to enter our country through our vast land borders," Asa Hutchinson, the undersecretary for border security at the
Department of Homeland Security, said at a news conference. "We recognize that we have to secure those and that's the president's first principle of
immigration reform," Mr. Hutchinson said. "America must secure its borders and this is a part of that effort."
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Border patrol agents say that their new found power will be focused mainly on third country immigrants, and not on Mexican or Canadian citizens.
Immigrants found further away than 100 miles from the border will still be handed over to a judge for a ruling on their status. Officials say that
pleas for asylum will still be heard.