Jessica Contrera reports from McMillan, TX for the Washington Post:
“Along the border, the impacts of Trump’s immigration policies are visible everywhere: At the river, the number of people crossing into the United States has plummeted. At the detention facilities, fewer people are being detained. And at the McAllen bus station — a place where ICE has released more than 30,000 families since 2014, sometimes hundreds a day — the number of people coming in each day is sometimes down to just an overwhelmed man and his only child, with tickets that will take them 1,700 miles and 46 hours north to live with a relative in Cleveland.
“Look at the dresses,” Sandra says as the bus passes a clothing store.
Miguel looks instead at her. She must be tired, he thinks. Or at least hungry. He reaches for a bag carrying the only food they have for the trip. It had been given to them not by ICE, but by a stranger at the bus station. She had run up to them just before they boarded and passed them the bag, which was full of snacks and sandwiches. Miguel hands a sandwich to Sandra. She takes a bite. He does not know who the stranger was, only that she seemed to be in a hurry, and now there are seven sandwiches left and 46 hours to go.
In the months since Trump took office, the sign-in sheet had fewer names with each passing week. For a time, the respite center staff wondered if the families would stop being released completely. “Under my administration,” Trump had said during his campaign, “anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country.” He railed against the very policy that had allowed the families to come here: a policy critics have long called “catch and release.” It was a routine developed for ICE and Border Patrol to handle the overwhelming number of parents and children, mostly from Central America, crossing the border to ask for asylum. Each released family would be allowed to go live with their relatives in the United States, as long as they appeared at the check-ins and court dates that would eventually determine whether they would be deported.
On his sixth day in office, Trump issued an executive order declaring the “termination” of catch and release. It has not been as simple as that declaration, though; there are laws and judicial orders in place that limit how long ICE can detain children, and in most cases, when a child is released, at least one of their parents is, too.
For the time being, catch and release was still happening, and Gabriela was still showing up at work every day, never knowing if it would be the one when the surge of people returns, or another when so few people cross the border, no families show up at the respite center at all.”
Read the complete article at the above link.
We use “catch and release,” a sport fishing term to refer to the lives and futures of real human beings like this. And by all accounts, including my own observations, immigration detention is something that can be highly coercive, intentionally demoralizing, and expensive.