Customs and Border Protection Chief: ‘We Have All But Ended Catch and Release’

MCALLEN, TX - JULY 25: Central American immigrants just released from U.S. Border Patrol detention board a Greyhound bus for Houston and then other U.S. destinations on July 25, 2014 in McAllen, Texas. Federal agencies have been overwhelmed by tens of thousands of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central …
John Moore/Getty Images

Only one-in-twenty migrants is being released into the United States after being caught at the border, the acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told Breitbart News

“We have all but ended catch and release,” Morgan said. “It is a game-changer.”

That is a huge shift from mid-2019, he said. “We were actually releasing half [of the arriving migrants] into the interior of the U.S., most never to be heard of again.”

The end of catch-and-release means that migrants cannot get U.S. jobs while they wait for their asylum claims to be processed. This deters other people from migrating to the border because they know they will not be able to repay their smuggling debts to the cartels. 

The rollback of catch and release also reduces the flow of foreign workers into U.S. workplaces. This tightens the labor market and pressures employers to raise wages and spend money on the labor-saving equipment that allows Americans to earn higher wages. 

In December, border agents detained 40,000 migrants at the border, down 71 percent from 144,000 detentions in May 2019.

“It is true [and] the success that I’ve just outlined is absolutely a direct result of this President’s strategy … and the accompanying policy initiatives developed by this administration,” Morgan said.

Donald Trump’s diplomatic agreements have enabled the reduction of catch-and-released with Mexico and the Central American states, said deputy commissioner Bob Perez. “More than 95 percent … [are] not being released into the interior. That has changed everything – I can’t overemphasize that enough.”

The deals include the Migrant Protection Protocols, which have allowed U.S. border officials to send roughly 60,000 migrants back into Mexico, pending their asylum court hearing in the United States. 

The increased use of DNA testing has also reduced the number of migrants who rent other people’s children so they can use the Flores border loophole for families, said Morgan. “A child was a passport to the United States …we’ve all bust closed that loophole.”

The Flores judicial decision requires officials to release migrants with children after 20 days. That deadline is too short to complete the asylum and deportation process, so it has allowed hundreds of thousands of migrants to get into U.S workplaces, communities, schools, and housing markets 

The reduced number of migrants is also a financial loss to the cartels and smuggling groups, said Perez. “They’re not moving these people because they cannot profit from the movement and exploitation of these people,” he said. 

“We have hurt their pocketbook tremendously,” said Morgan.  “They have lost billions of dollars because [of the reduced] flow of migrants coming from [Central America] — we have all but stemmed that flow.”


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