Return of ‘catch-and-release’: A recent explosion of migrants at the Southern U.S. border is stretching the limits of ICE and immigration courts, data shows

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
By Paul Martin

The number of migrants arrested and turned away from the Southern U.S. border rose 30% in February
The flow of 76,103 migrants last month also represents a 50% increase compared to the 50,437 who crossed the border during the same month in 2018, according to Department of Homeland Security data
The high influx of people has forced a return to the ‘catch-and-release’ policy for many more immigrants, meaning hundreds or thousands could be released into the U.S. while they await a date in court, officials say

26 March 2019

The number of immigrants trying to enter the U.S. – legally and illegally – at the Southern border is still rising dramatically despite efforts by the Trump administration to stem the flow, according to Department of Homeland Security data.

Officials track the number of immigrants arrested between border points, as well as how many are legally seeking asylum at official ports of entry. Those combined numbers swelled to 76,103 in February – a 30 percent increase compared to the 58,295 seeking to cross just a month prior, data shows.

The flow of immigrants also represents a 50 percent increase compared to the 50,437 who crossed the border during the same month last year.

Numbers have continued to rise in March, with 23,103 coming in just one week ending March 17, according to Axios.

The high influx of people is putting the government in a ‘difficult position,’ said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney who worked in the Obama administration and is now a member of a Homeland Security advisory committee formed by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

‘Ordinarily you’d be detained, you’d be held at a border patrol facility until a bed opens up at an ICE facility – but there are no beds at ICE facilities,’ Fresco told

‘There’s so many people, they’re literally just being apprehended, checked for terrorism and the watch list and released into the interior,’ he added. ‘Then there’s about a 5-6 year backlog in the immigration courts.’

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