Trump Administration Planning to ‘End Catch and Release at the Southwest Border’

September 19, 2019 Updated: September 19, 2019

President Donald Trump and a top immigration official said the administration is working on ending so-called “catch and release” at the southern border of the United States, with the goal of shutting it down by early October.

Mark Morgan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told reporters late on Sept. 18 that the administration is “confident that in a couple of weeks we’re going to be able to end catch and release at the southwest border.”

He said it will be possible through a “network of initiatives and policies by this administration that’s really been supported by several different entities within” the Department of Homeland Security, including his agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“There will be no more catch and release. Nobody coming into the country … And that’s without the Democrats,” Trump told reporters.

“It would’ve been easier, we could’ve done it the other way, but because it won’t be done through legislation and what we’re doing from Mexico, we won’t have catch within two weeks, we’ll be free of catch and release, releasing people.”

Trump and Morgan were speaking to reporters on Air Force One, flying back to Washington after seeing a portion of the border wall that was recently built in California.

trump at border wall
President Donald Trump, second from right, speaks to reporters during a visit to the United States–Mexico border wall on Sept. 18, 2019. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan (L) and Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan (2nd L) listen. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Morgan said a new interim final rule would be coming out following the Supreme Court blocking a nationwide injunction from a federal judge.

U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar twice tried to issue the injunction, despite being chastised by an appeals court, on an administration rule that doesn’t let migrants apply for asylum if they declined to apply for asylum in another country they passed through on the way to the United States.

“We’re going to be able to utilize that across the southwest border, as well as MPP, the migrant protection protocol, so those are two significant things that are able to drive us in catch and release,” Morgan, a Border Patrol chief during the Obama administration, told reporters.

The migrant protection protocols, issued earlier this year, are rules that enable the government to take certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the United States from Mexico—illegally or without proper documentation—and return them to Mexico as their cases are going through the U.S. court system.

The system is known as “remain in Mexico” and was supported by an appeals court in May, a ruling that lifted another nationwide injunction.

Morgan also hailed the government of Mexico for supporting the Trump administration’s efforts to stem illegal migration, saying the government has provided “unprecedented support,” including 25,000 troops.

“What they are doing is absolutely—I know we use this word a lot, but it’s true—it’s unprecedented,” he said. “Mexico has never stepped up, and has [never] really seen this issue as a true regional crisis like they have now.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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