Along America's Southwest border, illegal immigrants crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in April at a rate 233 percent higher than the same month last year.
Data from the Department of Homeland Security showed that roughly 39,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended by Border Patrol last month, more than doubling the number picked up in April 2017.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, provided an explanation, saying, "The reason is obvious: If you can cross the border illegally without any consequence, why not? As long as the catch-and-release policy-program exists, large numbers of people are going to cross the border illegally."
Judd speculated that roughly 75 percent of the individuals apprehended by Border Patrol are released in the U.S. due to the catch-and-release protocol.
Following President Donald Trump's inauguration, the number of migrants crossing into the U.S. illegally took a huge drop. In fact, Judd says, "In 2017 and due to the rhetoric, we had fewer apprehensions than any year in the past 45 years. It was simply because people believed that if they crossed the border illegally they would be held until their deportation hearing."
But without noticeable changes since then, Judd added, "Smugglers quickly realized everything was status quo, and they're once again recruiting people to enter our country illegally."
The Trump administration is calling on Congress to help address the issue.
Vice President Mike Pence said this week: "Whether it be the catch-and-release program or asylum policies that don't require people to stay in the first safe country in which they arrive, we're calling on Congress to work with us to bring about change."
In a congressional hearing last week, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made the analogy, "If you have an alarm in your home and you catch the burglar and you call the police and the police come, and in fact it is an illegal entry into your home. But the police then tell you that they have absolutely no ability to detain or remove those criminals and the criminals stay in your house, you would not tell me that is home security. That is what we face at the border."
She added, "We stop people, we interdict them, but we do not have the authority given the loopholes in many cases to detain and remove them. We are forced to release them back into the communities after they have committed crimes."