When is catch and release not catch and release? When Beto O’Rourke is talking about it. That’s the general takeaway from the Democratic candidate’s appearance on Face the Nation this Sunday. Beto has had plenty to say about the border situation lately, so it was only natural that Margaret Brennan would ask him about it during the interview. The question was what to do with the roughly 160,000 migrants currently in detention and the hundreds more either turning themselves in or being captured on a daily basis. When O’Rourke talked about what he thinks should be done, Brennan even tossed out the phrase “catch and release.” That’s when things got awkward. (Free Beacon)
“Most of those asylum-seeking migrants pose no threat or danger to the United States. We know from past history that when we connect them with case managers in a community they have a 99% chance of meeting their court dates and their appointments with ICE, and it costs us one-tenth of what we pay to keep them in detention and in custody,” O’Rourke said.
“So in other words ‘catch-and-release’ is something you support?” Brennan asked.
“I wouldn’t call it ‘catch-and-release.’ I would call it helping those who are seeking asylum in this country to follow our laws,” O’Rourke responded. “If at the end of that process they must return to their country of origin, I want to make sure they go back to the country from which they left in the first place.”
Beto goes on from there to talk about how the vast majority of these migrants have no intention of doing anyone any harm, breaking any laws or causing trouble. The key is to release them with a case manager, you see.
Let’s go to the video.
O’Rourke is reading faithfully from the Democratic playbook here, but he’s spouting a lot of “facts” that really needed to be challenged. CBP has repeatedly reported that they’re encountering people who, when they see they’ve been spotted, don’t run away. They do indeed turn themselves in and then start reciting the same stories, almost word for word, making the case that they should be given asylum. It’s almost as if someone had been coaching them and giving them a playbook to memorize.
As to where that 99% figure came from, that’s a total mystery. I’ve yet to see a credible report of 99% of those released into the interior showing up for their court dates. No citation was offered for the figure.
The most curious aspect of this exchange, though, comes with the “catch and release” phrase. O’Rourke knows that the idea of releasing all or most of the illegal aliens crossing the border polls horribly. So obviously he doesn’t want to say “catch and release.” Instead, he proposes having CBP get custody of them (or “catching” them) and later let them go with a case manager. (That would be “releasing” them.) He chooses to call it “helping those who are seeking asylum in this country to follow our laws.”
Just in terms of basic sloganeering, that’s a tough one to fit on a bumper sticker, Mr. O’Rourke. But it led to yet another question where no followup was pursued. Let’s just say for a moment that Beto’s crazy figures are anywhere near the realm of reality. How many caseworkers does he think we have? There are currently a little more than 400 immigration judges available to work this massive backlog. Each one has a limited number of caseworkers available to be assigned. Rather than saying we need to release everyone, perhaps he could work to put enough people on the job to handle the demand.