NOI 18: What is Immigration Catch and Release and Why is it Ending?

Today we discuss "catch and release," what this policy is, and why the Trump administration is "ending" it.

Jacob Tingen: Hello and welcome to the next episode of Nation of Immigrants. Today we’re going to be talking about what’s all over the news today, the top headlines are catch and release. Apparently there was some kind of press conference or press release, a statement put out by the Trump administration that they will be ending the policy of catch and release. We’re going to talk about what that means and how it influences the immigration climate currently. Welcome and thanks again for coming.

Announcer: You’re listening to Nation of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

Announcer: A Podcast about U.S. immigration law with your host, Jacob Tingen.

Jacob Tingen: Yes, so catch and release. Let’s talk a minute about what this means. Before we even get there, I wanted to show you guys something cool. We got these. These are new t-shirts for those of you who are listening. We’ve got a Nation of Immigrants t-shirts available on sale now. We’re going to have these available at Along with our Lawyer Up t-shirts, we’ll have a Nation of Immigrants t-shirts and mugs, couple of other things. That’s a fun addition to our online store. Want to give a shout out for that.

Jacob Tingen: Then as always, you can support the podcast directly by visiting Click on the link that says podcast. You’ll be able to find a button to donate. As I mentioned in the past, we are setting up a 501(c)(3), but the donations to support the podcast, we plan to put towards legal bills for immigrants. I hope that if you’re interested and you’re following and you’ve subscribed that you would do that. Then finally other ways to support the podcast, you don’t necessarily have to support with money, but shares and follows always help.

Jacob Tingen: We are on iTunes, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and a couple other places. Find us around and follow and share because really what we’re trying to do with this particular podcast and live stream is just share what’s going on with immigration and improve the level of understanding about this topic. I think that as people understand this topic better, that will one, will agree more on the issue of immigration. We’ll find more solutions. Two, I think we’ll also be more compassionate to our neighbors, friends, and family members who are immigrants or who are very close to immigration issues. That’s part of it.

Jacob Tingen: Let’s talk catch and release. That’s the headline. I’ve never really liked catch and release because people aren’t fish, and this is a fishing term, catch and release. It’s also not a legal term. It’s basically just a term that has been adopted I think by society. I think it’s one of those terms that has been used by border officials and border agents where the way they view it as we catch them and then release them into the interior of our country. That’s definitely what the term references. We capture them, and they’re released. Today the headlines are the Trump administration is ending catch and release, and some people are hailing this as a good thing. Others are saying this is totally bad. What is it? What does it actually mean? What’s actually happening?

Jacob Tingen: Here we are. I’m going to read basically just some public statements that were made by Kevin McAleenan. He said, “With some humanitarian and medical exceptions, DHS will no longer be releasing family units from border patrol stations into the interior. That means that for family units, the largest demographic by volume arriving at the border of this year, the court mandated practice of catch and release due to the inability of DHS to complete immigration proceedings with families detained together in custody will have been mitigated.”

Jacob Tingen: Basically what he’s saying is, and we’ve talked a lot about a lot of these issues, the Flores settlement agreement, you can’t have children detained for long periods of time. Then again, in light of the Supreme Court ruling that was issued I think last week or the week before, they’re saying, well look, we’re not going hold on to family units. We can’t. In the past we’ve released them into the interior of the country, but now the Trump administration has set up multiple roadblocks to allowing people into the country while they wait for due process instead would remain in Mexico. I love the official name for this, the Migrant Protection Protocols. The remain in Mexico policy initiative, now they’re just shipping people out, and then they’re also pushing for agreements with other countries, and trying to return them as quickly as possible.

Jacob Tingen: What’s interesting in the stated issue, if migrant family units do not claim fear of return, they’ll be quickly returned to their country of origin. If they do claim fear, they’ll be returned to Mexico, which I think is fascinating. As always, immigrants from Mexico who cross over, they won’t be returned to Mexico because they’re claiming fear from Mexico, and there’s not much of the Trump administration can do about that. Again, if they came from Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, they crossed through Mexico, well then they’ll be returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols.

Jacob Tingen: I think that that’s a very interesting name for that program because I think it’s well established that many central Americans are not protected or safe while they wait in Mexico for immigration proceedings. Then as we’ve already talked about recently, if they’re in Mexico for U.S. immigration proceedings, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to get counsel and the kind of assistance they need to win their claims, even if they have good claims and many of them do as we’ve been talking about as well. This policy initiative is basically just them saying, we’re going to start doing this now. Like I said, the Supreme Court a week or two ago ruled in favor of Trump. Over the summer Trump had issued a policy saying, hey, Mexico’s a safe third country. Let’s keep people there while they wait and tell them they have to apply for asylum first in Mexico before they come to the U.S.

Jacob Tingen: Then that decision, that executive action was blocked on a national level by a judge. There was a bit of an appeal. Ultimately it got taken to the Supreme Court, and in a rapid seven to two decision, the Supreme Court removed what essentially was a temporary injunction. Now the original court case is still moving its way through the courts. It might become a permanent injunction, but in the meantime, it’s effects will be instated, and that’s what’s happening. That’s what’s really happening here. This article is saying, hey, remember that Supreme Court decision, the Supreme court said we could do this, so now we’re doing it.

Jacob Tingen: This is the executive action being implemented. That’s what this “end” of catch and release is. Now, I put end quotations because again, I’ve just never liked these terms catch and release about people. It’s not necessarily the end, end. Like I said, this case is working its way through the court. If it turns into a permanent injunction or this executive action is stalled in any other ways, then the pre-existing asylum processes might come back into place where people come to the border and then are given a credible fear interview and then released into the interior of the United States as has been done for many years.

Jacob Tingen: What’s interesting here is how all these different government players are reacting. Of course Mexico is kind of sticking to their guns and saying … they’ve got political pressure not to be seen bending to the U.S’s will, but Guatemala and apparently also El Salvador have signed agreements to be safe third countries, which is ironic because El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and it is one of the countries that many people are fleeing from. I’m not exactly sure how the U.S. is going to work with El Salvador to get people applying for asylum there, especially if they don’t necessarily have to cross through there. A lot of Hondurans for example just cross through Guatemala and Mexico. It’s just interesting how this is going to work out.

Jacob Tingen: The immediate effect will be that they’re going to start returning people. They won’t be releasing them into the interior. Then what’s also interesting is that I read another report that this policy, while it is the current policy and it’s apparently going to be implemented next week, and it’s already being implemented at some border stations apparently. The goal is that it would be in all of next week, but some border stations in Arizona still haven’t implemented it, and don’t appear to have plans to. It’s not that the agents themselves are being rebellious or anything. It’s just that there’s no implementation guidance.

Jacob Tingen: When you have a new plan like this, of course it makes sense that it should be done consistently. It might take a while to to go into effect. Let’s talk about this as to whether it’s a bad thing or a good thing. I mean, if you’ve listened to this podcast, you know that I’m an immigration advocate. I do consider this to be a negative thing. It’s my view that many of these people do come with fear. I had a mom years ago actually back when we first started getting scores of unaccompanied minors, minor children coming to the U.S. I had a mom tell me in my office, “I would rather my child die on the way to the U.S. with hope in their hearts than die in my country with no hope at all.”

Jacob Tingen: I just think that that is where people are at. I’m going to repeat it because I want you to listen to that. This is not an unloving mother. This is a mother who cares about her child a great deal, but at the end of the day she said, “I would rather my child die on the way to the U.S. with hope in their hearts than die in my country with no hope at all.” That’s where people are at. Now, you can tell me all day long that these are economic migrants, but that’s just not the case for the vast majority of them.

Jacob Tingen: Another one of the headlines that I saw today was about how our immigration court system is broken. It’s interesting that when I look at these headlines and I see all the action that USCIS and our government is taking on the issue of immigration. It all distracts with what is essentially one of the biggest problems, and one of the biggest places to start the solution to this problem is to fix our immigration courts. Unfortunately, a lot of these policies are also attacking our immigration courts. They’re overburdening them. Trump’s deportations have gone down while the number of court cases in the backlog have gone up, so the policies aren’t accomplishing the policy goals as they were set out even by Trump himself. That’s a big contributor to the problem here.

Jacob Tingen: Catch and release is supposed to relieve the immigration court backlog I think, but as it stands, I don’t see the evidence as to how that’s going to happen. Many of these people will also be fleeing from Mexico, which we’ve discussed. I don’t think can qualify as a safe third country for many central Americans, and it doesn’t qualify as a safe country for many Mexicans who come here claiming asylum. Expect to hear more about this topic, catch and release, the immigration court system and just fairness in the procedure and system overall.

Jacob Tingen: We’re going to be talking more and more about these issues in the next coming days and weeks. Thank you again for listening. If you want to the podcast again, visit You can click on the podcast link and donate, and follow us on YouTube, Facebook, subscribe on iTunes and we will see you around. Thanks again for hanging out. Bye.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to Nation of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

Announcer: Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Watch the live stream on YouTube and Facebook, or visit to learn more.

Share This Post

Related Articles

Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch within 1 business day!

Are you ready for a superior client experience?

We’re a Richmond, Virginia law firm with clients from around the world. Schedule your consultation today and let’s talk about what we can do for you!