WHAT: A very small percentage of the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) who illegally enter the United States each year are ultimately removed.
Tens of thousands of UAC are released into the interior of the United States each year, including more than 107,000 since fiscal year (FY) 2016. Only about 3.5 percent of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border, however, have been removed.
Putting into perspective how relatively few removals take place each year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed only 3,598 UAC during FY 2017, while 41,435 UAC were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol.
WHY: Loopholes in our immigration laws hinder immigration enforcement efforts, allowing UAC to enter and remain in the United States while effectively avoiding removal.
In staying true to his oath of office, President Trump and his Administration are responsibly enforcing our immigration laws, including by executing immigration enforcement actions to the fullest extent under the law. Legal loopholes, however, continue to hamstring efforts to enforce our immigration laws and secure our border, ultimately resulting in catch and release.
Catch and release practices have enabled the vast majority of UAC who enter the United States each year to avoid removal. Currently, based on a consent decree in a court case from roughly twenty years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can only detain UAC for a maximum of 20 days combined. All UAC must be promptly transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for reunification with sponsors in the interior of the United States. Further, current Federal law prevents UAC who are not from Canada or Mexico from being promptly returned to their home countries. UAC are unlikely to appear in court for removal hearings once released, and as a result they generally go on to remain in the country.
For years, catch and release has enabled tens of thousands of UAC to enter and remain in the United States. It is time to close the loopholes and ensure Federal authorities are empowered to fairly and effectively carry out immigration enforcement efforts.