Democrats Use Border Wall Talks to Expand ‘Catch and Release’ Policies

Catch and Release Policy
David McNew/Getty Images

Democratic legislators are using the border wall negotiations to reopen the catch-and-release loopholes which have been narrowed by President Donald Trump’s appointees.

A top Democratic target is the package of asylum reforms set by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those reforms ended President Barack Obama’s policy of offering asylum and citizenship to Central Americans who claimed they were being persecuted by criminals or abused by spouses.

“The Republicans, as you know, took it out,” Democratic Rep. David told the News & ObserverPrice continued: “It’s now back in, and I hope it stays in. It should stay in. There’s almost unanimous agreement on our side and some Republican agreement.”

If the Democrats get their way, they will revive Obama’s incentives for many migrants to demand access to the United States via the U.S. legal system, so bypassing the border wall.
White House officials are warning against a deal which ignores Trump’s priorities, including a border wall. “We’re on the verge of a government shutdown again,” said spokesman Hogan Gidley. “Democrats won’t come to the table and have a conversation about securing the country,” he told reporters on Friday.
The panel is expected to devise a funding package for the Department of Homeland Security by Monday, in time for a February 15 vote.
Some GOP appropriators are pushing back against Trump, in part, because several already voted in June 2018 for a spending package which defunded another border reform set by Trump’s deputies. “I think there’s next to no appetite in the room on either side in either body, and that’s a good thing,” Tennessee GOP Rep. Chuck Fleischmann told Bloomberg News. “We didn’t want the government shut down the first time.”
Democrats are also trying to reduce the DHS’s ability to process and repatriate the economic migrants who cross the border in search of low-wage jobs. The News & Observer wrote:

Price said the committee has made progress, but “there’s a list of things that are major differences,” including the number of detention beds and border patrol agents and how much funding there is for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement or ICE.

And, of course, funding for the wall, which led to a 35-day government shutdown.

“We’ve done a lot of things that I think we’re in agreement, but there’s certain things where we have to bring in leadership,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat and a member of the committee.

Democrats want most migrants to be released, ensuring that many will hide in the existing population of illegal immigrants. The Washington Times reported:

“Limiting the number of ICE detention beds is a way of controlling the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies,” the Democratic aide said. “If history is a guide, there has to be some compromise on both beds and border infrastructure and we are working to ensure there is a workable glide path downward on beds.”

Democrats say the DHS does not need so many detention beds but instead can release and track migrants or resident illegals by using “Alternatives to Detention,” such as monitors strapped to migrants’ ankles.

Democrats also argue that migrants who bring children should not be detained. If that rule is adopted by Congress, all migrants who bring children to the border would be quickly released into the U.S. jobs market.

DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman rejected the Democrats’ proposals, saying in a statement that:

Without the necessary detention authority and sufficient funding for family beds to enable ICE to detain family units when they are ordered removed, ICE will still only be able to remove a very small percentage of family units, thereby increasing the pull factors and further contributing to the border crisis. For example last year, only one percent of all removals were on ATD, at a cost of $72,000 per removal.

The Washington Times reports that the Republican and Democratic legislators prevented some DHS officials from championing their budget priorities, which include funding to keep roughly 52,000 migrants in detention during their legal process.

The two parties are also haggling over funding for the border wall or fence. reported:

Republican negotiators are pushing for $2 billion or more in funding, while Democrat say they hope the figure will not go above $1.6 billion.

Just as important are specifications for how funds can be spent, with Democrats pushing for specific restrictions on what kinds of barriers could be built and where.

“I want the highest possible number we can get, but I would hope it would be north of” $2 billion, said Rep. Charles Fleishmann (R-Tenn.), a conferree on the bipartisan negotiating committee.

Democrats are demanding that some of their pro-migration policies be part of any border/wall deal. Roll Call reported:

“The Republicans and the White House are saying they need barriers, wall, whatever you want to call it and that is an absolute objective, and we’re saying we want some other things,” House Democratic conferee Lucille Roybal-Allard of California said. “Like anything else, it’s a trade-off.”

…House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn said he hasn’t conducted an official count of Democrats who won’t vote for any amount of border barrier funding, but he’s not concerned about a deal fracturing the caucus.

“I have complete faith and confidence in these conferees, and if they come out there with what I hope will be unanimous support, it would be what they think is in the best interest of the caucus and the country, and I would be supportive of [that],” the South Carolina Democrat said.

The Republicans on the DHS panel include Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Texas Rep. Kay Granger, Tennesee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Georgia Rep. Tom Graves, and Mississippi Rep. Steven Palazzo.

The Democrats are Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, Montana Sen. Jon Tester, New York Rep. Nita Lowey, California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, North Carolina Rep. David Price, California Rep. Barbara Lee, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, and California Rep. Pete Aguilar.

The establishment’s economic policy of using legal and illegal migration to boost economic growth shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors by flooding the market with cheap white-collar and blue-collar foreign labor.

That annual flood of roughly one million legal immigrants — as well as visa workers and illegal immigrants — spikes profits and Wall Street values by shrinking salaries for 150 million blue-collar and white-collar employees and especially wages for the four million young Americans who join the labor force each year.

The cheap labor policy widens wealth gaps, reduces high tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high tech careers, and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

Immigration also steers investment and wealth away from towns in Heartland states because coastal investors can more easily hire and supervise the large immigrant populations who prefer to live in coastal cities. In turn, that coastal investment flow drives up coastal real estate prices and pushes poor U.S. Americans, including Latinos and blacks, out of prosperous cities such as Berkeley and Oakland, California.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.