It’s Still ‘Catch and Release’ on U.S. Border In Early Trump Days

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President Trump has vowed to overhaul the immigration system, but for now it’s almost business as usual on the border, the Los Angeles Times reports. A slow stream of Central American families, fleeing poverty and violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, has continued to trickle into McAllen, Tx., one of the busiest ports of entry on the Southwest border. Although Trump has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to end “catch and release,” the unofficial name for a policy in which U.S. agencies allow migrants they deem low risk to remain at large pending a hearing, there are not enough detention centers to hold the thousands of families crossing over. A few times a day, a white bus drops off a fresh batch of immigrant families in McAllen.

Across the border, anxiety is rife as immigrants, attorneys, and officials struggle to interpret the frenzy of announcements from Washington. “Lately, I feel like every day is a Jack in the box: Turn the handle and see what pops out,” said Jodi Goodwin, an immigration attorney in Harlingen, Tx., “They’ve get instructions to detain everyone. Okay, how in the world are they supposed to do that? Everyone is scratching their heads.” Trump told the Department of Homeland Security to “establish contracts to construct, operate, or control” immigrant detention facilities at or near the border, but many experts warn that ramping up the immigrant detention system will be costly and fraught with legal challenges. Even before Trump took office, the numbers of immigrants in detention reached historic levels. In November, 41,000 people were in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention. The number usually is 31,000 to 34,000.

 

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