Contradicting President Trump’s repeated pledge to end what he calls “catch-and-release” policies, the government is jailing fewer migrant families who illegally cross the border in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, The Wall Street Journal reports. Citing concerns over crowding and safety, and facing frequent criticism over conditions in its detention centers, officials said Border Patrol agents have started releasing hundreds of families caught each day in that border region rather than hand them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for potentially longer detention.
The exact number of families to be released will depend on how much room exists to hold them in ICE detention facilities, which have filled up as a record volume of families are crossing the border. ICE’s three family detention centers can hold several thousand people at a time. Families with children can spend up to 20 days in them under current law. Migrants released directly by the Border Patrol will be given a notice to appear, a legal document that orders them to report to immigration authorities in the interior of the country. Unlike adult migrants with children released by ICE, they will not be given ankle monitors to track their movements. For years the Rio Grande Valley has been the busiest stretch of border for families crossing into the U.S. illegally. Between Oct. 1, the start of the federal government’s fiscal year, and the end of February, more than 58,000 such migrants have been arrested in the area, about 42 percent of the more than 136,000 nationwide.