There is “no way” the “catch and release” of deportable immigrants can stop under President Donald Trump’s executive order to keep undocumented immigrant parents and children together, said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
Judd, the head of the union representing Border Patrol agents, said in a Thursday interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” that the options are either separate families or release migrants after they’re caught.
“We’re going to have to release (families) under what’s called the catch-and-release program,” Judd said. “It’s impossible to not separate the family unless the catch-and-release policy takes hold again. If we can’t hold the children more than 20 days, therefore we can’t hold the parents more than 20 days. It takes about six to nine months to see a deportation proceeding from the beginning to the end.”
Judd added that the Border Patrol has not yet received written guidance on how to implement Trump’s executive order or what it will mean for immigrant families.
The term “catch and release” refers to the policy of arresting undocumented immigrants and then releasing them into the US while their cases move forward in the court system. That allows many to live in the country for years, due to the deep backlog of cases in the immigration court system.
Trump has repeatedly criticized catch and release policies and has frequently called to end them.
Under current court rulings, the US government cannot hold undocumented immigrant minors in custody for more than 20 days. In connection with the executive order, the Trump administration filed a suit Thursday to allow it to detain undocumented families together indefinitely.
Judd, however, said it was highly unlikely such a suit will be successful.
“That’s not gonna fly,” he said, “because the court decisions are very, very clear that we’re not going to be able to hold the children for more than 20 days.”
However, Judd also implied that he finds catch and release concerning.
“I am very concerned about the magnets that draw people to the United States,” he said. “We arrest people and they flat out tell us that ‘We gave ourselves up because we know you’re going to release us.’ ”
Judd contradicted Trump’s frequent rhetoric implying that most undocumented immigrants are dangerous criminals.
He said that if Trump is “purposely trying to” cast most undocumented immigrants as such criminals, “then that’s not true.”
“The vast majority of the individuals that we encounter are very polite, very respectful individuals,” he said. “It’s about 20% that we deal with that have criminal records.”