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Freedom Fridays

August 3, 2018 – Keeping American Communities Safe
Ending Catch-and-Release Immigration Policies



What is “catch-and-release”?

“Catch-and-release” policies direct federal immigration officials to release apprehended illegal aliens back into our American communities while they await their court proceedings and potential deportation.


What was the problem?

Aliens quickly learn that even if they are captured crossing the border, they will be released into the United States with only a notice to appear in court at a later date.

Catch-and-release policies are problematic for many reasons. These aliens are not fully vetted before being released and frequently go on to commit violent crimes in our communities. Two families in Mesa, Arizona learned that in the hardest possible way. Brandon Mendoza, a Mesa police officer, was killed in 2014 by an illegal alien who had been released after a criminal conviction and was drunk-driving on the freeway in the wrong direction. Grant Ronnebeck was shot and killed in 2015 by a released illegal alien who had been convicted of burglary and claimed ties to the Mexican Mafia and Sinaloa drug cartel.

Most aliens who don’t commit additional crimes disregard their scheduled court date knowing they will never be held accountable. In 2016, 39 percent of released aliens didn’t show up for their hearings. Although failure to appear can result in a removal order, these aliens rarely face swift deportation. Today, there are over 950,000 illegal aliens with removal orders who are free in our communities – the great majority issued to those who evaded court.


What are we doing about it?

In April 2018, President Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to end catch-and-release policies. Shortly after, Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented a zero-tolerance system to prosecute all illegal entries.

In January 2017, I introduced H.R. 486, also known as Grant’s Law, for Grant Ronnebeck, which ensures that criminal illegal aliens are not released back into our communities. No family should ever have to be a victim of a crime committed by someone who should not have been here in the first place. This bill was passed out of the U.S. House as part of a larger bill and is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate.

I also continue to be supportive of President Trump’s priorities to secure the southern border, fully enforce our immigration laws, and ensure that federal immigration officials have the resources they need to carry out their important missions.


What are they saying?

“While the administration has made a good faith effort to protect our nation’s borders by ending catch-and-release, there are still significant resource and legal constraints keeping the practice alive. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) currently lacks sufficient funding and resources to ensure that there is enough detention space to detain illegal aliens during their removal proceedings. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that U.S. immigration courts are facing a backlog of over 700,000 cases. These are issues that Congress must use the power of the purse to rectify. Additionally, there are current loopholes in federal law that prevent detention and removal as a family unit – leading to the recent family separation crisis and mass catch-and-release. Despite the clear need for a legislative fix in this area, Congressional Democrats have blocked every effort to address these loopholes.” – RJ Hauman, Government Relations Director, Federation for American Immigration Reform


“In 2016, NumbersUSA identified "Ten Steps to Fix the Broken Immigration Enforcement System." Ending catch-and-release was one of those steps. When illegal aliens who are apprehended crossing the border illegally are released, they easily disappear into the interior of the United States to never be heard from again. This jeopardizes public safety, creates illegal job competition for unemployed American workers, and further incentivizes illegal entry. The U.S. Government should not be in the business of accommodating the exploitation of its own immigration laws.” – Chris Chmielenski, Deputy Director, NumbersUSA


“The "catch and release" policies put in place by the Obama administration and imposed by certain judges are the main reason for the current crisis at the border, and for the settlement of about 500,000 parents and minors who arrived illegally since 2014.  The policy has been caused significant fiscal and public safety problems for the American cities and towns where they have settled, including burdening the schools and public welfare programs and contributing to the proliferation of gangs like MS-13.  The way to fix this is to enable the government to hold families who arrive illegally in custody until their case can be resolved, and to enable the government to speed up the processing of these cases so that the migrants are not in custody for an extended time.” – Jessica M. Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies