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With Illegal Immigration Numbers Soaring, Ernst Joins Effort to End ‘Catch-And-Release’

Current loophole forces immigration authorities to release illegal immigrants back into the U.S., even if they have been found guilty of aggravated felonies or violent crimes

WASHINGTON ­­­‑ As historic numbers of illegal border crossings continue to soar, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) joined Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) on legislation that would close the “catch-and-release” loophole that forces immigration authorities to release illegal immigrants back into the U.S. if they have not been accepted for deportation to other countries after being detained for six months. The Keep Our Communities Safe Act outlines specific situations where an illegal immigrant can be deported instead of released back into communities around the country.

“The ‘catch-and-release’ loophole has allowed dangerous criminals to blatantly circumvent our justice system, making our country less safe and putting our communities at risk,” said Senator Ernst. “This legislation would put a stop to this senseless policy and take a small step towards restoring order at the Southern border.”

“Under no circumstance should an illegal immigrant with a history of violence be released into the U.S. through this loophole,” said Senator Grassley. “Not only is this a danger to our communities and law enforcement as President Biden’s border crisis rages on, but it’s also an insult to immigrants who follow our laws and come here legally. This is a common-sense fix that is sorely needed,” Grassley said.

“Our immigration system is broken and President Biden won’t acknowledge the crisis we are facing at the southern border,” said Senator Inhofe. “That’s why my colleagues and I introduced the Keep Our Communities Safe Act this week. This legislation would close the ‘catch-and-release’ loophole, which puts law abiding citizens, local law enforcement officials and communities at risk. Our bill will ensure that illegal aliens who have been found guilty of violent crimes and aggravated felonies are not able to remain in our communities. As the current law stands, an illegal alien with a criminal record is released back into the United States after six months if no other country accepts them for deportation. This bill is a commonsense solution and it’s time for it to become law.”


The Keep Our Communities Safe Act would close the loophole that prevents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from detaining non-removable immigrants beyond the current Supreme Court-mandated six months in these specific situations:

  • The illegal immigrant will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future;
  • The illegal immigrant would have been removed but for their refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the secretary’s efforts to remove them;
  • The illegal immigrant has a highly contagious disease;
  • Release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences;
  • Release would threaten national security; or
  • Release would threaten the safety of the community and the illegal immigrant either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.

Full text of the bill can be found here.