Vitter: Stop ‘catch and release’ of immigrant children

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said the administration’s current process allows undocumented child immigrants to “disappear into our country.”

Vitter introduced a bill, S. 2632, last week that he said would truly address the influx of thousands of children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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“My bill would make sure we detain these individuals, don’t release them out into society and have a much quicker, efficient process in deporting them back to their home country,” Vitter said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “It basically means we’re stopping catch and release.”

Currently, the children are being detained by the border patrol and then housed at Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) facilities until their trial to determine if they qualify for asylum. Some are also released to family members or immigration sponsors until their trial.

Vitter said this process allows some to stay in the country illegally. His bill would amend a 2008 law to ensure the children couldn’t seek refugee status and would obtain biometric data from them before they are deported in case they try to reenter the United States later.

The White House has asked for $3.7 billion to temporarily house and feed the children and pay for their legal services, but Republicans have said the emergency funding shouldn’t be granted without some immigration reforms.

Lawmakers are working on legislation to address the issue and fund the government agencies that are running out of money.