aside Is Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy Is Back To “Catch And Release?”/ Maybe/ Maybe Not


There have been multiple news reports that folks in the White House could be heard yelling and screaming at each other over on Thursday evening (6/21/18) on what to do about immigration issues.

Sometime in the Spring of 2018, the republican President Donald Trump and his cronies  figured out that the 2017 GOP tax cuts bill was a dud in trying to motivate the base to get out to vote in this upcoming November 2018 elections. Then the president and his team came up with an alternative solution which ended up being President’s tried and true bogeyman, immigration which frankly was the main cultural wedge issue that won him the presidency.


Thus the president decided to create a crisis that didn’t exist with migrant refugees at the US southwestern border even though the numbers of peoples crossing this US border are the lowest ever in years. He needed a way to look tough and strong on his signature anti-immigration stance to motivate his base of voters.

And so, a new immigration policy  was started with President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions on April 6, 2018, with his  memo, 

These new immigration procedures allowed for the automatic separation of children from parents who were seeking asylum at the southwest US border. The president’s cabinet members and spokespeople were announcing that if refugees did not enter at designated US points of entry, there was the -0- tolerance rule in play, where every parent would be detained and prosecuted for a misdemeanor. It was at this point that the children were forcibly separated from their Moms and Dads for indeterminate periods of time.

As per Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the president could have ended this practice of separating children from the parents with one phone call at any time. Directing the migrants to apply for asylum at the US designated points of entry was not a realistic plan as most peoples were being turned away at these designated points. There are documented stories detailing how peoples had been waiting for weeks to gain entry as well as instances where children were still being forcibly separated from their parents, even at these US designated points of entry.

Finally, due to public outcry the president has been forced to end the automatic separation of families as of the 20th of June 2018 by another executive order.

But the president still wants to look tough for his base and so he is continuing to push for his “zero tolerance” policy versus the former practice of “catch and release,” where if the proper procedures were followed, the success rate was over 95%. This is where families are monitored but not detained or separated but are required to return for their court dates, where their requests for asylum could be heard.

The president’s real intent is for this policy to act as a deterrent.

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As per a June 17, 2018 San Antonio Express News report by Elaine Ayala, “You can’t deter people from Central America who’ve experienced violence, whose relatives have been murdered, or whose young children face gang initiation if they stay.”

“Last year, I interviewed a Central American woman who had been in hiding in her home country for months from a gang that would have forced her into prostitution. She ran out of places to hide. Her mother found a smuggler who delivered her to the border. It was a dangerous journey that she was willing to risk.”

“Far more horrific circumstances have forced families to send unaccompanied children north. For them, the fear of being separated from a child is the price they’re willing to pay for the hope of refuge.”

“The Trump administration ultimately will need a better system of dealing with this flow of immigrants and asylum seekers.”

“Meissner says it will require more efficiencies, more immigration judges and courts and “co-location” of agencies in border centers where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Border Patrol can effectively handle such migrants.”

“That’s a really different border processing model, and that takes some time to do,” she said.”

“Americans have been shocked at the treatment of immigrant families at the border and have condemned it as cruel and inhumane. When the president referred to immigrants as animals, theologist James Martin wasn’t alone in pointing to the comparisons to the antebellum South and Nazi Germany.”

“Like Meissner, others reminded the administration of the historic lows in illegal border crossings and that Mexico is an ally and major trading partner essential to the U.S. economy.”

“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met last week and denounced the administration’s immigration policies as an affront the “right to life” and its separation of children from parents as immoral. One bishop suggested canonical penalties that can range from denying communion to excommunication for Catholics involved in implementing Trump’s policies.”

“Ultimately, what is at play here is racism. It is at the root for so much that is wrong in this country.”

“Immigrants are the punching bag for the irreversible demographic shifts that are changing the U.S. population. Ultimately, it will lead to power shifts that someday redistricting and voter suppression will not contain, though both continue to hit hard.”

“When Americans argue immigrants must stand in line, they don’t realize there’s no line in which to stand; or that applicants that do qualify must wait 20 years before their cases are processed.”


Here’s the rest of the story…

As per 6/22/18 New York Times report by Michael D. Shear, Ron Nixon and Katie Benner, “Thursday night’s meeting (6/21/18) was held in the White House Situation Room and lasted at least 90 minutes, according to four officials briefed on the discussion who described it on the condition of anonymity.”

“They said Customs and Border Protection officials forcefully argued that agents who are apprehending migrant families at the border cannot refer all of the adults for prosecution because the Justice Department and other law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to process each case.”


“In particular, the border officials expressed concern about the number of prosecutors and judges needed to handle the proceedings, and the lack of space available to detain families while the cases go forward.”

“As a result, the officials from Customs and Border Protection told White House and Justice Department officials that they have had to issue fewer prosecution referrals of adults with children despite the president’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration.”

“Justice Department officials shot back, maintaining that the department has made no changes to its hard-line stance on illegal border crossings as it continues to receive referrals for prosecutions from Customs and Border Protection agents.”

Link to entire report: In Tense Meeting, Trump Officials Debate How to Process Migrant/ NYT 


On June 22, 2018, Ted Hesson of Politico penned the following report, “Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy is effectively dead”


‘It’s going to be “catch and release” because they don’t have the detention beds,’ a formal DHS official said.

Even before Trump signed the executive order, his zero tolerance policy had never approached the “100 percent” promised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That’s because DHS was referring only about 60 percent of suspected border-crossers for prosecution, based on data provided by the department. That 60 percent was double the previous rate and more than enough to overwhelm the system.

Trump’s decision to announce the end to family separation effectively delivered the death knell to zero tolerance simply because the facilities to place families in detention were already close to capacity.


“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement maintains just 3,326 beds in three family detention centers, according to a 2018 report to Congress. As of June 20, the agency had placed 2,623 people in them. The number of migrant family members arrested by the Border Patrol each month is in the thousands.”

“Another obstacle to zero tolerance was the courts. The 1997  Flores Settlement  agreement — which outlines the basic standards for treatment of unaccompanied minors in detention — mandated that children be incarcerated no more than 20 days. U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee ruled in 2015 that the guidelines also extended to children with their parents.”

“The Justice Department on Thursday filed a motion with the court to change the agreement to allow for indefinite detention of children with their parents or guardians. But plaintiffs in the case oppose any alteration, and Gee, an appointee of President Barack Obama, is not expected to grant it.”

Image result for photos of migrant children at us sw border

“The political fallout surrounding family separations poses yet another obstacle to maintaining zero tolerance, as the Trump administration dodges questions about whether it will reunite the nearly 2,300 children separated over a five-week period with their parents — some of whom were already deported — prior to the executive order.”

“DHS officials told several media outlets Friday that 500 of those children had been reunited with parents, but offered no details.”

“The administration either didn’t think it through, or did think it through and didn’t care,” Cecilia Muñoz, White House Domestic Policy Council director under Obama, told POLITICO. “Neither of those is particularly comforting.”

“Sessions announced the first part of the “zero tolerance” policy in early April, directing U.S. attorney’s offices along the southwest border to prosecute offenses under an illegal entry statute “to the extent practicable.” Roughly a month later, Sessions announced that DHS would refer “100 percent of illegal southwest border crossings” for criminal prosecutions — a controversial move that precipitated the rapid rise in family separations.”

Image result for photos of migrant children at us sw border

“We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to come to the border illegally,” Sessions said then. “This is just the way the world works.”

“Sarah Isgur Flores, a DOJ spokeswoman, tweeted that the Justice Department had not changed its part of the zero tolerance policy, but did not provide data requested by POLITICO on its implementation.”

“There has been no change to the Department’s zero tolerance policy to prosecute adults who cross our border illegally,” she wrote.”


  1. Gronda, his pitting people against each other to save face is very annoying as well. His parading the families of victims of illegal immigrants is an attempt to choose either them or the kids. That is asinine and uncalled for. We can care about both. What he still fails to realize is he can have a firm policy, but still be humane.

    America’s leaders need to debate this issue without the hyperpartisan politics that Trump creates on every issue. What is the humane thing to do, what if the economically best thing to do, what helps people with their future and the country’s, etc.? Immigration is accretive to the economy, eg. Innovation is portable. There are some jobs Amercan citizens do not want to do.

    What we don’t need is a narrow minded man making policy off the few bad examples to appease an uninformed base. That is not how to solve problems. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keith, I believe a large part of the immigration “problem” which the alt-right continually blame Dems for keeping an “open border policy”. The spin goes like this:

      “This Executive Order doesn’t fix the crisis,” Sen. Kamala Harris, also a California Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “Indefinitely detaining children with their families in camps is inhumane and will not make us safe.”

      The ACLU was even more direct.


      “This executive order would replace one crisis for another,” the organization said in a statement from executive director Anthony D. Romero. “Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents, under any set of circumstances.”

      In other words… you CAN’T send adults to jail and kids to special facilities for juveniles, but you also CAN’T detain entire families together in specialized facilities for that purpose, either.

      So what CAN you do?

      Trump sure sees right through it, and immediately fired back.

      “Democrats want open Borders, where anyone can come into our Country, and stay,” he wrote. “This is Nancy Pelosi’s dream. It won’t happen!”

      Other Republican leaders also called out the left for moving the goalposts and actively working to undermine border security.

      “I’m beginning to think that the Democrats who make this alternative argument are less interested in keeping families intact and more interested in having open borders,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, said at a news conference. “And the last thing we want to do is have an incentive for illegal immigration and open borders.”

      He said that while we want to keep families intact, we also need to secure the border and stop drugs.

      Back and forth we go….


      • Dear 1EarthUnited,

        Here’s reality. The Democratic President Obama and the republican President Bush both used “catch and release policy. With programs to help monitor the “catch and release” program, over 95 % of those came back to court for their court hearings. Meanwhile the parents and children were not separated or detained.

        The numbers of peoples crossing the southern borders have been lowered.

        So why is the president ordering a -0- tolerance policy? Good question. He is taking this action to appear tough on immigration which is the tactic that many in his base wants.

        It doesn’t matter that these peoples are mostly refugees escaping the criminal environments like in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in Central America that the US helped create.

        As per 6/23/18 Lawfare article, Who’s Really Crossing the U.S. Border, and Why They’re Coming by Stephanie Leutert:

        “President Trump, who initiated the separations and then sought to quash criticism with a muddled executive order, has portrayed the policy as a harsh but necessary measure to stop a wave of migrants “bringing death and destruction” into the United States. At another point, he claimed that migrants want to “pour in and infest our country,” linking those crossing the border to the gang MS-13”.

        “Despite what the president says, the situation at the border is much more nuanced. There’s not a flood of people racing across the border. The majority of migrants aren’t dangerous criminals. Many are women and families—and many are fleeing gang violence rather than seeking to spread that violence farther north.”

        “First off, while the current administration has tried to tie Central American migrants to MS-13, government data reveals that gang members crossing irregularly are the rare exceptions. Since the Trump administration took office, the Border Patrol has detected fewer gang members crossing irregularly than during the Obama administration. In FY2017, these detections amounted to 0.075 percent of the total number of migrants (228 MS-13 members out of 303,916 total migrants). When combined with MS-13’s rival, the Barrio 18 gang, the number rises only slightly to 0.095 percent. This is far from the “infestation” of violent gang members described by the president.”

        “The current crisis hasn’t been caused by a sudden influx of migration, either. The peak in apprehensions of irregular migrants actually took place some 17 years ago, in FY2000. At that point, U.S. Border Patrol agents caught 1,643,679 migrants attempting to enter the United States without the appropriate papers, compared to 303,916 apprehensions in this past fiscal year. But this decreasing number of apprehensions should not be confused with a gentler, kinder approach to border security—in fact, just the opposite. Since 2001, the number of Border Patrol agents along the southwest border has nearly doubled from 9,147 agents to 16,605. Border fencing also increased: to date, there are 705 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile long U.S.-Mexico border.”

        “The face of migration has also changed. Back in 2000, Mexican nationals made up 98 percent of the total migrants and Central Americans (referring to Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran migrants) only one percent. Today, Central Americans make up closer to 50 percent.”

        No one, not Democrats want to let in criminals. That is why there are criminal checks. But we don’t want to conflate refugees fleeing their countries to save their lives with rapists, M13 gang members, murderers.

        We can do both. Kick out the criminal while helping the refugee families.

        Hugs, Gronda

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Keith,

      President Trump is still directing his reality show. He thinks hosting the parents who suffered at the hands of undocumented migrants / immigrants was to justify his actions. Of course we feel empathy for these peoples who lost loved ones to drunken drivers and other ways.

      But no one is going to conflate crying babies and their moms with criminals. All the studies show that migrant communities have less crime than those with US citizens. But the president can’t be bothered with facts, evidence.

      Most Americans can deal with both truths.

      The president was forced into backtracking but he can’t be trusted. His catering to his anti-immigration base is his priority and the children be damned. He truly doesn’t care.

      Hugs, Gronda


  2. Oh the historical irony. Back in the 17th to 19th centuries coming uninvited into another person’s country was a ‘Manifest Destiny’ and ‘civilisation’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Roger,

    Most Americans welcome and value legal immigration but the president is pushing to cut legal immigration by 50 %. This stance is strongly opposed by the business community.

    But again, the president is catering to the anti-immigration faction of his base.

    Hugs, Gronda


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