The new Policy has been expected, but now it is official. The Border Patrol this month is overhauling its approach on migrants caught illegally crossing the 1,954-mile border that the United States shares with Mexico.
The U.S. Border Patrol has announced a change in the so-called catch-and-release-policy, whereby illegal immigrants from countries other than Mexico, captured at the U.S.- Mexico border were automatically released to await a court hearing. Very few ever show up for their court hearing in reality.
The Border Patrol now feels it has enough of a handle to begin imposing more serious consequences on almost everyone it catches, from areas including Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to San Diego. The “Consequence Delivery System” — a key part of the Border Patrol’s new national strategy to be announced within weeks — relies largely on tools that have been rolled out over the last decade on parts of the border and expanded. It divides border crossers into seven categories, ranging from first-time offenders to people with criminal records.
Punishments vary by region but there is a common thread: Simply turning people around after taking their fingerprints is the choice of last resort. Some, including children and the medically ill, will still get a free pass by being turned around at the nearest border crossing, but they will be few and far between.
The new strategy was first introduced a year ago in the office at Tucson, Ariz., the patrol’s busiest corridor for illegal crossings. Field supervisors ranked consequences on a scale from 1 to 5 using 15 different yardsticks, including the length of time since the person was last caught and per-hour cost for processing. The Border Patrol has introduced many new tools in recent years without much consideration to whether a first-time violator merited different treatment than a repeat crosser.
It remains to be seen how this new policy will affect illegal immigrants entering the US, and the ability to help them become legal in the future.
We will keep you posted as we learn more about this policy. Read more here