The longstanding “catch-and-release” system for detaining and then releasing migrants who enter America illegally is being threatened after a new ruling issued by Attorney General William Barr.
Currently, migrants who say they face persecution in the land they fled are allowed to go free pending a hearing. Barr’s ruling changes that policy.
“An alien who is transferred from expedited removal proceedings to full removal proceedings after establishing a credible fear of persecution or torture is ineligible for release on bond. Such an alien must be detained until his removal proceedings conclude, unless he is granted parole,” reads the decision in a case that sought an interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The practical interpretation of that ruling by Barr is that migrants who enter the U.S. illegally, even if they can demonstrate that they could be persecuted in their home countries, will not be released until their cases have been heard.
That means detention will be indefinite, depending upon how swiftly a case can be heard, instead of the migrant being released on bond. It is unclear how the policy will be administered at a time when the immigration system is swamped with a rising tide of migrants crossing the southern border illegally.
Barr’s ruling only applies to individuals who cross illegally, not those who seek to enter the U.S. through recognized ports of entry.
AG William Barr says fedl law prevents DoJ’s immigration judges from releasing illegal immigrants. This will reduce catch-&-release, create a political headache for DHS & Congress & pressure migrants to comply w/ asylum process. https://t.co/OmTXFrCAbw
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) April 17, 2019
Attorney General Barr Cracks Down On Catch-And-Release: asylum seekers who meet “credible fear” threshold no longer eligible to be released on bond (can no longer travel w/in US with no intention to appear in court the day their cases are to be heard) https://t.co/vlThvmM5Jr
— Sarah Reynolds (@Sarah__Reynolds) April 17, 2019
“There will be many, many people who are not gonna even have the opportunity to apply for release now,” said Gregory Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The ruling was attacked by the American Civil Liberties Union as unconstitutional, CBS reported.
The ACLU called the decision “the latest attempt by this administration to punish asylum seekers for seeing refuge in the United States.” It went on to state that “The decision could result in the unlawful detention of thousands of people. The constitution does not allow the government to lock people up without due process.”
Another ACLU official said there was no mistaking the meaning behind Barr’s ruling.
“They want to send a message that you will get detained. We are talking about people who are fleeing for their lives, seeking safety. And our response is just lock them up,” said Judy Rabinovitz, a deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights’ Project, according to The New York Times.
“That’s what Trump’s mantra is: End catch and release,” Rabinovitz said.
Trump has made no secret of his dislike of the policy that allows those who enter the country illegally to be detained and then set free.
“And catch and release. How about that? That’s my favorite. Catch. You catch a da–ed killer, you catch a bad hombre. You catch a bad one. You take the name,” Trump said during a 2018 rally in Mesa, Arizona, later adding, “We have to write them up, and then we say come back in three years for a court case.”
“In the meantime, they’re released into our society. And you know what the percentage of people that come back for the case? Three percent. No, you’re wrong. He said zero. You were slightly off. Three percent. Three percent show up three years, four years, five years later. It’s a disgrace. And the Democrats do it,” he said.
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