Trump Shatters Controversial 'Catch and Release' Immigration Policy


In a memorandum signed Friday, President Donald Trump ended the controversial “catch and release” immigration policy and asked Defense Secretary James Mattis to find space to detain illegal immigrants captured under the new policy, Reuters reported.

“Catch and release” is a policy under which most illegal immigrants apprehended by law enforcement are released into the community pending an appearance in front of an immigration judge.

“Today, President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to take important steps to end ‘catch and release,’ the dangerous practice whereby aliens who have violated our nation’s immigration laws are released into the United States shortly after their apprehension,” a statement from the White House read.

“The safety and security of the American people is the president’s highest priority, and he will keep his promise to protect our country and to ensure that our laws are respected.

“At the same time, the president continues to call on congressional Democrats to cease their staunch opposition to border security and to stop blocking measures that are vital to the safety and security of the United States,” the statement added.

Under the Obama administration, “catch and release” was generally considered the operative policy with illegal immigrants who had been apprehended.

In a Nov. 20, 2014 memo from then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Obama’s DHS urged that only illegal immigrants who were suspected of being terrorists, had gang connections, had been convicted of certain felonies or who had been apprehended in an illegal border crossing attempt should be detained.

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In 2013, the Center for Immigration Studies found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement “reported 722,000 encounters with potentially deportable aliens, most of whom came to their attention after incarceration for a local arrest.”

“Yet ICE officials followed through with immigration charges for only 195,000 of these aliens, only about one-fourth,” the center noted.

The New York Times reports that the new memorandum signed by Trump on Friday directs four departments — Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and the Justice Department — to formulate policies to ensure illegal immigrants are detained. This would include new money allocated for detention centers near the border.

The memorandum requested “a detailed list of all existing facilities, including military facilities, that could be used, modified, or repurposed to detain aliens for violations of immigration law at or near the borders of the United States,” according to The Hill.

Do you support President Trump's stance on 'catch and release?'

The agencies would also have to report on measures being taken to make sure illegal immigrants didn’t “exploit” protections offered to them by parole or asylum guarantees.

The memorandum also ordered them to establish guidelines for proving that asylum seekers establish “credible fear” for returning to their home countries, which is considered the legal bar for obtaining asylum in the United States.

“Catch and release” has been a controversial program ever since its inception under the Bush administration and crystallization during the Obama years. The fact that Trump is willing to take it on is a major victory for conservatives who feel border control should be emphasized by Trump, particularly because it signaled the administration is willing to toughen its stance on illegal immigration beyond just a border wall.

In other words, this is big. And we’re loving every minute of it.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture