Border Patrol memo instructs agents to release migrants from nearly all Eastern Hemisphere countries

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An internal Border Patrol memo, obtained by Fox News, instructs agents in the San Diego sector to release single adults from all but six countries in the Eastern Hemisphere and classify them as “hard” or “very hard” to remove.

The memo was sent out after President Biden’s executive order banning asylum for most illegal immigrants took effect last week.

Biden announced the order on Tuesday and said he was “moving past Republican obstruction and using executive authorities available to me as president to do what I can on my own to address the border.”

Details in the memo, first reported by the Washington Examiner’s Anna Giaritelli, instructs agents that all single adults from the Eastern Hemisphere are to be processed via “NTA/OR,” which means Notice to Appear/released on Own Recognizance, except for migrants from Russia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan – which are “mandatory referral” countries. 


Internal memo to border patrol agents

Fox News has obtained an internal Border Patrol memo that was sent out to agents in the San Diego sector and instructed them to release single adults from all but six countries in the Eastern Hemisphere. (Bill Melugin/Fox News)

There are more than 100 countries in the Eastern Hemisphere, meaning that despite the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Biden’s threats of consequences and promises to remove migrants who cross illegally under the new executive order, the overwhelming majority of the migrants in the San Diego sector are being released into the U.S.

A senior Border Patrol official told Fox News’ Bill Melugin that this was localized guidance put out to the San Diego sector only because of the unique countries around the world they encounter there. 

The official said this is not U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or DHS guidance for the entire border.

The CBP official said even if these migrants are released into the U.S., they still are not eligible for asylum and cannot request it.

There are many countries the U.S. government considers “recalcitrant,” that won’t cooperate with U.S. deportation flights and refuse to take their citizens back.

In a DHS background call with reporters on Friday, the agency acknowledged that it’s difficult for them to remove certain Eastern Hemisphere countries but that they are working with them, including China, to gain cooperation.

The border official pointed out that, while the San Diego sector is encountering large numbers from the Eastern Hemisphere who are being released with a court date because their home countries won’t cooperate with deportations, two thirds of the encounters in the San Diego sector are from easy to remove Western Hemisphere countries – large numbers of which are being placed into expedited removal – including Colombia and Ecuador. Thousands of illegal immigrants from these Western Hemisphere countries have already been removed or returned since the order went into effect, the official added.


Internal memo sent out to Border Patrol agents

The memo was sent out after President Biden’s executive order banning asylum for most illegal crossers took effect last week. (Bill Melugin/Fox News)

The CBP official said they have been “clear eyed” about the fact that it will take time to ramp up implementation of Biden’s executive order, and they will continue to engage with uncooperative countries to start taking their citizens back. 

They also acknowledged that a lot of these Eastern Hemispheric counties will continue to be released in the San Diego sector until those agreements are worked out and said there is only so much they can do with an executive order. 

Video recorded by Fox News continues to show Border Patrol buses releasing hundreds of migrants at a trolley station in San Diego almost daily.


Border migrants San Diego

Migrants line up at the southern border in San Diego on June 6, 2024. (Fox News)

The presidential proclamation will temporarily suspend the entry of migrants across the southern border once the number of average border encounters exceeds 2,500 a day over seven days, officials said. It is accompanied by a rule from DHS and the Department of Justice that will increase standards for asylum.

However, the rule comes with a series of significant exceptions.


The rule does not apply to legal immigrants, unaccompanied children or to those judged to be “victims of severe forms of trafficking.” It also doesn’t apply to those who schedule an appointment on the CBP One app at a port of entry, where about 1,500 enter each day.

There is also an exception for those who are allowed to enter “based on the totality of the circumstances, including consideration of significant law enforcement, officer and public safety, urgent humanitarian and public health interests that warrant permitting the noncitizen to enter.”

Fox News Digital’s Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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