GovExec had a piece on Friday that noted DHS’s intention to completely end the “catch-and-release” policy for illegal immigration by October 2006:
Greg Giddens, program manager for the department’s Secure Border Initiative, told Government Executive he has been asked to end the “catch and release” practice by then.
A lack of detention bed space has forced the department to release non-Mexican illegal immigrants into the country if they do not have felony convictions and do not pose a threat to national security. Although these illegal immigrants are given a notice to appear in court for deportation proceedings, most never show up for their hearing.
It will be interesting to see if DHS can achieve this goal. This cannot be achieved in the short-term simply by increasing the number of beds in detention centers; that is an effort which will take years. DHS is likely hoping that by announcing an end to catch-and-release, it will deter non-Mexicans from trying to cross the border – and in effect serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy. This could work, but if the “catch rate” is low, the deterrence factor might not kick in. And if immigrants discover new loopholes in the law, the word will quickly filter back to the home countries.