Federal immigration officials are still carrying out “catch-and-release” border enforcement policies despite President Donald Trump’s order to end the practice — meaning recently arrived illegal immigrants are still able to roam the country freely, according to Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.).
“It is still happening against the wishes of the elected president. And that’s the problem,” DeSantis told Fox news host Laura Ingraham on Thursday night’s “The Ingraham Angle.” “I mean, if you have a caravan coming, they should just be stopped at the border and turned away.”
Promoting immigration enforcement, border security and the construction of a border wall were among Trump’s key campaign policies during the 2016 presidential election. Trump also promised to end “catch-and-release” specifically. As president, he signed a memorandum earlier this month to end the program.
In February 2017, the president ordered the Department of Homeland Security to end the policy as well.
DeSantis noted that he chaired an emergency subcommittee hearing Thursday regarding actions that can be taken to stymie the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico into the U.S., including large groups of illegal immigrants traveling in “caravans” and seeking asylum.
” I think, you know, the consensus amongst most of the witnesses [at the hearing] today was one, Trump ordered the catch and release to be done [away with], yet they’re still doing it,” DeSantis told Ingraham. “Then, the other thing is when you have the massive border surges — that really is a godsend to the drug cartels and the amount of fentanyl and all this junk that they’ve been able to bring into our country that has caused a lot of people to lose their lives.”
Catch-and-release policies are especially helpful to those conducting criminal activities in the U.S., he said. “In the large groups, you have the human trafficking, you have the drugs — I mean, it really is a boon for the cartels. We’ve got to get this under control.”
Ingraham pointed to reports about a group of 61 immigrants who attempted to enter the U.S. illegally on Monday night through Yuma, Arizona. One 18-year-old illegal immigrant from Honduras, Herberth Geovani Argueta-Chavez, even admitted to being an MS-13 gang member.
The Fox News host told DeSantis she hoped he would “continue to educate” the American people about “what’s happening at the border” while he campaigns for Florida governor “because I think Americans, when they hear that catch-and-release is still happening, are infuriated and shocked.”
“The president needs to step up and take the members of Congress who are allowing this to happen to task,” Ingraham said.
DeSantis told Ingraham that Trump’s signature border wall is essential for stopping illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. because “walls do not have prosecutorial discretion,” unlike government bureaucrats still allowing catch-and-release policies to thrive.
“If a bureaucrat doesn’t want to enforce the law, if they want to do the old Obama policies, or if you have an administration like [Obama’s] where they basically just give up on enforcement, then you don’t have your laws being enforced,” DeSantis said. “But the wall’s the wall. And the places where they have it, like San Diego, it works.”