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U.S. Border Patrol agents detain migrants Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Border patrol agents in the Texas Rio Grande Valley sector used their own discretion to release about 150 migrants Saturday evening without giving them a court date, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The use of prosecutorial discretion by border patrol to release migrants without a notice to appear in court is unprecedented, according to multiple sources, and is yet another sign of how overwhelmed parts of the border are becoming.

  • The Rio Grande Valley sector had roughly 5,100 migrants in custody as of Sunday, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios.
  • They were supposed to keep the number of migrants in their custody to about 700 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest: Guidance sent to border patrol in the sector on Saturday from agency leadership told border patrol agents they can decide to release some migrants — often at bus stations or nongovernmental organizations — without a notice to appear in court, according to a source familiar with the correspondence.

  • Migrant families and adults are usually first referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to determine if and where migrants will be detained.
  • Agents are still using an emergency public health order to quickly expel migrant adults and some families, but the guidance gives them more leeway in deciding what to do on a case-by-case basis, according to the source.
  • The guidance also says COVID-19 testing should be administered whenever possible. The government has largely relied on local agencies and nongovernmental organizations to provide testing for migrant families and adults.
  • Fox News first reported on the move, citing multiple border patrol agents.

What they're saying: "In some cases, families are placed in removal proceedings further along in the release process rather than while they are at the border patrol station," a DHS official told Axios in a statement.

  • "All families, however, are screened at the border patrol station, including the collection of biographical and biometric information and criminal and national security records checks."

Go deeper: Nearly 1,000 kids held by border patrol for more than 10 days

Go deeper

Rohingya refugees sue Facebook over Myanmar hate speech

Internally displaced Rohingya peoples at a market area in the Baw Du Pha IDP Camp in Sittwe in Myanmar's western Rakhine state. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Rohingya refugees accused Facebook in a $150 million lawsuit filed Monday of amplifying hate speech against the persecuted minority Muslims in Myanmar via algorithms and failing to take down inflammatory posts.

Why it matters: Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been killed in Myanmar in what the United Nations deemed a genocidal campaign. Tens of thousands of others have been displaced, notably following a massacre by Myanmar's military in 2017.

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that two Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: The Greensboro-Randolph Megasite will employ 1,750 people and have four production lines, each capable of delivering enough lithium-ion batteries for 200,000 vehicles when it opens, per a Toyota statement.