Democrat Cuellar says migrants being released into US without notices to appear in court

Says Biden admin should have used 'more conscious approach' on 'big changes' to immigration system

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, explained on "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday what prompted him to release photos of a crowded migrant holding center in Texas and said many migrant families are being released into the U.S. without a notice to appear in a court. 

The Democrat made the comment one day after the photos of migrants in a crowded border facility in Donna, Texas were released by his office as the Biden administration limits media access to the southwestern border.  

The migrants, who are in clear pens akin to cages, are seen sleeping on pads on the floor with aluminum blankets. In some instances, it appears that dozens are sharing individual pens. Most appear to be wearing masks.

When asked why he released the photos Cuellar, who has toured some facilities, said it was for the "same reason I did in 2014 when I released photos of very packed facilities."

"Keep in mind this is a Border Patrol facility. They’re not equipped to handle young people and families. They were set up to handle adults," he continued. "And I think under the pandemic it makes it even more important to understand why this is important to understand what's happening at this facility."

A photo of a CBP overflow facility for migrants in Donna, Texas. 

A photo of a CBP overflow facility for migrants in Donna, Texas.  (Office of Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas)

"The administration just has to move them faster into the Health and Human Services facilities," Cuellar went on to say.

He also noted that in one weekend about 150 migrants were released "without a notice to appear," which he called "unprecedented."

"How do you release somebody to the country without a notice to appear?" he asked, noting that those released were not adults or unaccompanied children, but family units.

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He pointed out that there are "different facilities," including "what we call the Border Patrol facilities that are supposed to be holding people up to 72 hours."

Cuellar also pointed out that if Health and Human Services doesn't take the unaccompanied children, "then Border Patrol is just forced to stay with the kids for longer period of time and that's why we are seeing those packed facilities."

"They are not moving them out fast enough under Health and Human Services," he continued.

Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows that the numbers of migrants have gone up tremendously since Biden took office and changed immigration policies.  

On Tuesday, Cuellar warned that the situation could escalate as larger numbers of migrants make the journey in the warmer months ahead. Biden has scrapped a number of Trump's policies which included having asylum seekers remain in Mexico instead of staying in the U.S. while they wait for their cases to be heard.

Cuellar said he wants "to see law and order at the border" and doesn’t believe in open borders.

"If somebody has an asylum claim, a credible fear claim, then I think they should ask for that, but I’d rather have them do it in their country instead of coming down here and then being released and not knowing if they’re going to show up later at a different time," he said.

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A Biden spokesperson did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.