Hundreds of Haitian migrants crossing the US-Mexico border are being released into the US as Biden administration brings back “catch and release” policy. The controversial policy has made a comeback in the first weeks of the Biden presidency since Trump’s administration nearly ended the practice.
Border Patrol and ICE are allowing hundreds of migrants from Haiti and other countries who cross in the Del Rio region of Texas to remain in the US, without facing detention or quick expulsion to Mexico.
Instead, the illegal immigrants are given “Notices to Appear” in immigration court at some point in the future and allowed to board Greyhound buses for other parts of the United States, according to the migrant watchdog organization Center for Immigration Studies.
But Shon Young, director of the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition in Del Rio, to which Border Patrol has been delivering migrants for help with travel arrangements, confirmed the so called “Biden surge”, as his organization began receiving mostly Haitian and Cuban migrants since the day after Biden’s inauguration.
“For some reason, the day after the inauguration, we had a big influx of people coming,” he said.
The return of “catch and release” is likely the result of a change in Mexican law which banned children and families from being detained in Mexican detention facilities, according to the Washington Post.
Spacing limitations prompted by the coronavirus pandemic are putting government shelters at capacity faster than normal, forcing them to turn away many. Teenagers and parents must be kept together, making shelters even more overcrowded in Mexico. In response, Mexican authorities told Border Patrol agents to stop immediately removing families along the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, a Border Patrol agent confirmed the release of hundreds of immigrants who are now too much for the system to process.
“We are releasing hundreds from many different countries of origin because we simply don’t have enough room to hold them all,” the Border Patrol agent told the Center for Immigration Studies.
“They are being released under what is called an O.R. which means ‘Own Recognizance’ – basically, a promise to arrive for their immigration hearing at some future date. We can’t hold them because they are crossing all day long in groups of 20 to 40, men, women, children.”
The Trump administration used Mexico push-back policies during the latter half of 2019, which reduced the number of releases to a minimum. At the height of the 2019 border crisis in May of that year, 132,000 people were apprehended illegally crossing the border.
Catch-and-release ended altogether in March when the Trump administration introduced a Covid-management policy known as Title 42, which allowed the Border Patrol to quickly return many apprehended illegal migrants without process. That order still stands, as the Biden administration has not formally rescinded it.