‘The long era when anti-borders zealots dominated immigration enforcement agencies may at last be passing…’
(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) Attorney General William Barr has closed a “catch-and-release” loophole in immigration law that dates from the second Bush administration in an effort to cut down on growing asylum fraud.
It’s a loophole that has effectively allowed thousands of illegal aliens a “get out of jail free” card for potentially bogus asylum claims.
The Immigration Reform Law Institute heralded the move in a press release. According to the organization, the loophole let thousands of illegal aliens who were captured post bond and then disappear into the United States.
While federal law requires illegal aliens who are caught to be detained while their cases for removal are processed, there’s an exception if those aliens express a “fear of persecution.” Not surprisingly, many of them do.
After saying those magic words (and should their asylum officer find the fear “credible”), the aliens are then diverted to a separate process for “credible fear” aliens.
After that, they’re no longer subject to immediate removal—instead, their cases are transferred to a backlogged full-removal hearing process. And often, they’re never seen again.
According to Gregory Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, about 90 percent of these apparent asylum seekers pass their “credible fear” interview—an indication of either a lot of fear or very credulous asylum officers.
The White House says about one in 10 illegals crossing over from Mexico claim credible fear. That’s up from around one in 100 in the years prior to 2013.
Contributing to the problem was a 2005 decision made by the Board of Immigration Appeals, an entity within the Bush Justice Department, that such aliens not only are not subject to immediate removal, but can be released on bond.
That ruling has resulted in thousands of illegals with asylum claims being released into the interior of the country.
With Barr’s directive, that decision has been overturned—and this particular brand of “catch-and-release” might just come to an end.
While critics like the American Civil Liberties Union have already threatened to sue, the attorneys with the Department of Justice say Barr is on firm legal ground.
They point to a statute within the Immigration and Nationality Act—that illegals with a credible fear claim “shall be detained for further consideration of the application for asylum.”
The change in policy instituted by Barr means that migrants—even those who cross through a legal port of entry—are ineligible for bond until after their hearings are over.
Barr’s case is bolstered by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from last year, Jennings v. Rodriguez, which determined that detained immigrants do not have a statutory right to a bond hearing.
While the move won’t end the crisis at the border, Immigration Reform Law Institute said it hopes it’s a step in the right direction.
“We commend the Attorney General for his sensible ruling that the plain language of this statute means what it says,” said Dale Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI.
“This decision gives the American people hope that the long era when anti-borders zealots dominated immigration enforcement agencies may at last be passing,” Wilcox said. “But our task remains a big one. Nothing less than constant legal vigilance will be needed to repair the rot in America’s immigration enforcement and the rule of law.”