JENNA LEE: The immigration issue is a big one on the campaign trail and was also the subject of a subcommittee hearing today on Capitol Hill: lawmakers examining illegal immigration into the United States, specifically along the southwest border. More than 100,000 families making that journey since 2014 and despite a dip in January, some say the United States isn’t doing enough to get the numbers under control for good.BRANDON JUDD (President of the National Border Patrol Council): Immigration laws today appear to be mere suggestions. There are little to no consequences for breaking the laws, and that fact is well known in other countries. If government agencies like DHS or CBP are allowed to bypass Congress by legislating through policy, we might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether.LEE: A person who was there today joining us is House Judiciary Committee Chairman and Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte — it’s great to have you on the program . . . what do you think is the big headline that came out of the subcommittee today?BOB GOODLATTE: I think the big headline that came out of the subcommittee should be that as we watch Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond, we need a President of the United States who is committed to enforcing our immigration laws, because this hearing made it very plain that this president is not enforcing the laws. Remember the great border surge of two summers ago? Well guess what — it never stopped. . . .The projections for this entire fiscal year are higher than they were in 2014, and there’s a reason for that. The word has spread back to Central America and other places in the world for that matter that we’re not enforcing immigration laws, and that’s exactly what we heard from the Border Patrol agent that you just showed a clip of, and in fact he told us today — this was the real blockbuster news — that because the administration has been embarrassed by the number of people who do not return for their hearings after they’re so-called caught and then released into the interior of the country, they’ve ordered the Border Patrol agents to stop arresting them in the first place. Instead of enforcing the law they said, well stop even detaining them, then we won’t have this problem of them not coming back to the hearing because there’s hearing to begin with. Unbelievable. . .The president of the United States needs to enforce the laws. He needs to announce very clearly here and in Central America that the laws are going to be enforced and that people should not be encouraged to make this long dangerous trip.
Sternly worded memo on official House of Representatives stationery to follow.
Obama reinstates ‘catch-and-release’ policy for illegal immigrants, By Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, February 4, 2016The Obama administration has revived the maligned illegal immigrant “catch-and-release” policy of the Bush years, ordering Border Patrol agents not to even bother arresting and deporting many new illegal immigrants, the head of the agents’ labor union told Congress on Thursday.Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said Homeland Security was embarrassed by the number of illegal immigrants not showing up for their deportation hearings, but instead of cracking down on the immigrants, the department ordered agents not to arrest them in the first place — meaning they no longer need to show up in court in the first place.Mr. Judd said the releases are part of President Obama’s “priorities” program, which says he’s only worried about illegal immigrants who came across after Jan. 1, 2014. Mr. Judd said illegal immigrants without serious criminal convictions on their record only have to claim they came before 2014 — without even needing to show proof — in order to be released without ever being arrested.“Immigration laws today appear to be mere suggestions,” Mr. Judd testified to the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee. “That fact is well known in other countries.”Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, did not have an immediate comment on Mr. Judd’s testimony. The White House also declined to comment, with spokesman Josh Earnest saying he hadn’t seen the testimony.Mr. Judd and Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said criminal cartels are particularly astute at exploiting the Obama administration’s policies, and have specifically recruited and sent tens of thousands of children to flood the border in order to distract agents and create new chances to smuggle drugs across.Tens of thousands of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children from Central America, and tens of thousands more families traveling together, have surged to the southwestern border in the last few years, overwhelming the administration’s ability to handle them.The cause, however, remains heatedly debated.Immigrant-rights advocates said the children and mothers are fleeing horrific violence, and should be considered asylum-seekers, not illegal immigrants. The advocates point to spiking murder rates in El Salvador, which leads the western hemisphere with 103 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Honduras is third-worst with a rate of 57 homicides, and Guatemala is fifth-worst with 30 per 100,000 people.San Pedro Sula in Honduras recorded 885 murders out of a population of just less than 800,000 people in 2015, according to a Mexican nongovernmental organization that tracks the statistics. San Salvador, the capitol of El Salvador, recorded 1,918 murders among its 1.8 million people — a rate of 109 per 100,000.By contrast, the most murderous city in the U.S., St. Louis, recorded a rate of 59 per 100,000 inhabitants.Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which handles cases of children applying for protection in the U.S. detailed horrific stories of young children being enslaved by gangs, tracked down if they tried to leave, and being murdered as retribution for crossing the gangs.She recounted the story of one 14-year-old girl who was abducted by a gang, gang-raped for four days, and escaped. Her family fled to another location inside the country, but the gang tracked her down, and her family sent her north to the U.S.“These children are doing the only thing they can — they are running for their lives,” Ms. Young said.Mr. Judd, though, said if the children wanted to claim asylum, they could arrive at a border entry point and present themselves to Customs and Border Protection officers. Instead, the cartels deliver them to some of the remote parts of the border before sending them to find Border Patrol agents, keeping the agents tied up while the cartels smuggle their goods, the agent said.