Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan announced in his address to the Council on Foreign Relations Monday morning that the Trump administration ended “catch and release.”
Opponents of catch and release have argued that it creates a number of loopholes allowing migrants an easy pass into the U.S., while evading justice. According to a DHS press release, under the new system, migrants must have a credible fear claim that prevents them from returning to their home country. When this happens, they will be turned over to Mexico.
“With some humanitarian and medical exceptions, DHS will no longer be releasing family units from Border Patrol Stations into the interior,” said Acting Secretary McAleenan. “This means that for family units, the largest demographic by volume arriving at the border this year, the court-mandated practice of catch and release, due to the inability of DHS to complete immigration proceedings with families detained together in custody, will have been mitigated. This is a vital step in restoring the rule of law and integrity to our immigration system.”
May was the peak month for illegal crossings at the U.S. Mexico border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that 90 percent of migrants that entered the country in May didn’t do so through the proper ports of entry.
Moreover, there were 24 hour periods that month where groups of over 5,000 people crossed. The numbers have since dropped by 64 percent, which Acting Sec. McAleenan attributed to changing the laws, working with our partners in Central America, and “improving conditions” for migrants in border facilities.
The process of phasing out “catch and release” has put greater pressure on Mexico. “In terms of the reduction in flow through interdiction and disruption, the single biggest factor has been the efforts of the government of Mexico,” said Acting Sec. McAleenan. There’s a larger presence of Mexican law enforcement stationed along the U.S. Mexico border as well as at its border with Guatemala. In addition, the country has taken steps to reduce transnational crime.