Federal judge: Biden's catch and release policy is a 'flashing Come In, We're Open sign' on the border

A federal judge in Florida has ruled on the Biden administration’s “catch and release” program along the border, finding it unlawful.

A federal judge in Florida on Wednesday agreed with the state’s Republican attorney general that the policy of President Joe Biden’s administration to release many people who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexican border rather than detaining them violates U.S. immigration law.

U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell in Pensacola blocked the administration from continuing to implement a 2021 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo that had authorized “alternatives to detention” to ease overcrowding in detention facilities. These alternatives included ankle bracelets, phone monitoring or check-ins by immigration officers. Republican critics have called the policy “catch and release.”

Judge Wetherell, who was a Trump appointee, didn’t mince words in his decision, comparing Biden’s policies to a “Come In, We’re Open” sign on the border.

“For the most part, the court finds in favor of Florida because, as detailed below, the evidence establishes that defendants have effectively turned the Southwest border into a meaningless line in the sand and little more than a speedbump for aliens flooding into the country,” wrote Wetherell…

Wetherell added that the Biden immigration policies were “akin to posting a flashing ‘Come In, We’re Open’ sign on the southern border. The unprecedented ‘surge’ of aliens that started arriving at the Southwest Border almost immediately after President Biden took office and that has continued unabated over the past two years was a predictable consequence of these actions.”

The lawsuit challenging the police was filed by Florida in 2021. The state argued DHS was violating a specific law by releasing thousands of migrants and forcing the state to spend significant amounts of money to care for them.

The complaint says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is violating the Immigration and Nationality Act by abusing its authority to temporarily parole individuals who otherwise must be detained pending deportation proceedings.

The statute allows Homeland Security to use its parole powers only on a case-by-case basis and for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

President Joe Biden in February withdrew a 2018 executive order by former President Donald Trump that eliminated the “catch and release” policy…

Moody’s office said the catch and release policy is costing Florida millions. The state prison system spends more than $100 million per year incarcerating individuals who are unlawfully present in the U.S. and about $8,000 per student for public school education, which is provided regardless of immigration status, the AG said.

Judge Wetherell gave the Biden administration seven days to appeal before his decision takes effect. It’s not clear what would actually happen if this takes effect. How long would the Biden administration need to hold migrants applying for asylum before releasing them. At present the backlog to see a judge is more than a million cases. So the average time for adjudication of an asylum claim is up to around seven years. The administration can’t possibly detain all of the people who arrive to claim asylum. More likely a judge would determine that people awaiting their day in court could be released but this would presumably be done on a case by case basis rather than as a blanket policy.

Even some amount of detention might weed out the economic migrants claiming asylum as a gimmick to get a free pass into America. As the Judge suggested, by making it easy to game the system, we’ve put a flashing sign up on the border.

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