It is helpful to understand how an asylum application is supposed to work when looking at the situation where persons were dropped off at bus stations in Texas.
A person presenting himself/herself at a Port of Entry or to an Immigration Officer anywhere in the United States and making a claim of asylum is supposed to be detained pending a credible fear of persecution or torture interview (often called simply a credible fear interview).
Credible Fear has a particular meaning in law and refers to a fear of persecution on the basis of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Some commons reasons for migrants to seek to come to the United States likely do not qualify under the credible fear standard. Hoping for a better life for one’s children, fleeing domestic violence, or fear of a high general crime rate in the home country are examples of serious issues that still may not fall under the credible fear standard.
The credible fear interview is to determine if the claim of asylum *might *be justified if what the claimant says can be supported. It IS NOT the final determination of whether a grant of asylum will be made.
If a person/family passes a credible fear interview they are released into the United States. As they are no longer in custody of the government they may go wherever they wish given their (often quite limited) financial resources. They are instructed on how to follow up with Immigration for a final hearing on their asylum claim at a hearing, often a couple years or more in the future.
A person who fails to make an asylum claim that could be upheld at a hearing is subject to being detained pending deportation to his/her home country.
In the present time many, many asylum claimants are coming to the border with children. There is a policy in place due to an old legal settlement that limits how long children can be detained during such immigration processing. The Flores Settlement limits detention of children to no more than 20 days.
The Flores Settlement agreement came about in the 1993 case of Flores v. Reno, at a time when processing a credible fear interview seemed feasible in no more than 20 days. Though the legal case revolved around unaccompanied minor children in immigration detention, the Flores Settlement consent decree covered all minor children in immigration detention including those accompanied by a parent or relative.
In the present day there have been more asylum claims made than there is capacity (or willingness of the present administration?) to conduct credible fear interviews. So Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been releasing any children (and their accompanying parent/guardian) who have not had a credible fear interview within 20 days.
These people who are timing out are then released in much the same fashion as those who passed a credible fear interview.
TL;DR The government is releasing these people because they have been held too long and must be released to comply with a settlement agreement in an old court case.
As to why they are released without notifying social services agencies and charities…? Laziness or spite would be my guess. ICE officials are not required to make such notifications. So why bother? lazy.
And El Paso used to be somewhat of a Sanctuary City until a recent statewide law in Texas intervened. Dropping bus loads of people off with no notice might be a subtle way of ICE officers making things difficult for a city that provided limited cooperation with them in the past.