Trump administration eliminates “catch and release” at the border


The Trump administration has aims to end to the practice of “catch and release” for undocumented immigrants, and President Trump signed a memo to this effect earlier this month. Catch and release refers to the routine practice of releasing immigrants who have “present[ed] themselves at the border without authorization” during the processing of their case.

While President Trump’s memo doesn’t change immigration law, it directs border agents to change their procedure with the intent to eliminate catch and release entirely. What this means for unauthorized immigrants who approach the border is that those who are apprehended, and even those who present themselves for processing, will remain in detention for the duration of their case. The directive also orders the allocation of money to build more detention centers and use other government facilities to house detainees, and requires relevant government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security to report their efforts to curtail such immigration.

While the order seems focused on preventing unauthorized immigrants to cross the border, there are features that speak to the Trump administration’s hostility to immigrants in general, documented or not. There is language that requires agencies to reevaluate how they process asylum seekers, and immigration and civil rights advocates are also concerned about what the end of “catch and release” really means for due process. It seems to be one more attack from this administration on the rights of immigrants across the board.

For more information on the memo, please see: