The U.S. government is expected to launch an operation next week to send court documents to 78,000 migrants who were not processed for deportation after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization this year, two people briefed on the plan told CBS News.

Starting Monday, U.S. immigration authorities will dispatch packets of legal documents that will instruct migrants, many of them families with children, to show up to court hearings before immigration judges, who will determine whether the new arrivals will be allowed to stay in the country, the sources said.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plan, dubbed “Operation Horizon,” is designed to place tens of thousands of migrants who received ad hoc processing near the southern border into deportation proceedings. The agency will be sending migrants “notices to appear,” as well as other documents.

Typically, migrants who are released after crossing the southern border — instead of being rapidly deported or held in detention — are provided “notices to appear,” which require them to see an immigration judge who can order their deportation if they fail to show up to court dates.

However, starting in March, U.S. border officials did not issue notices to appear to tens of thousands of migrants who were released, citing strained resources due to a sharp increase in migration. Instead, these migrants were provided “notices to report,” or instructions to show up to an ICE office in their respective destination within 60 days to continue their processing.

Issuing a notice to appear takes between 60 and 90 minutes, while a notice to report can be prepared in 10 minutes, according to an internal government document. Unlike a notice to appear, a notice to report does not place migrants in deportation proceedings within the immigration court system.

In fiscal year 2021, which ended at the end of September, U.S. border authorities made more than 1.7 million migrant apprehensions, an all-time high, according to government data. About 61% of migrants taken into U.S. custody were swiftly expelled to Mexico or their home country under a Trump-era pandemic policy known as Title 42.


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