>> When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best.>> Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to lock up anyone entering the United States illegally. But four months in, a Reuters investigation finds US border agents are still releasing illegal migrants after they're caught crossing the border from Mexico.
Just as they did under the Obama era policy known as catch and release. There's one big change, though, far fewer migrants are trying to cross into the United States. Border agents telling us that's because Trump's rhetoric has convinced people in Mexico and Central America, incorrectly, it turns out, that Trump is already cracking down.
I'm Julia Ainsley, Justice Correspondent for Reuters. And behind me is the Rio Grande River, where just months ago, frequently, you would see raft crossers. These are people coming, usually undocumented, across from Mexico to the US side of the border. Border patrol often watch this area to pick those people up, to process them, see if they were claiming asylum, and now the river is almost vacant.
We see some people on the Mexican side, but there's very little traffic. Officials such as Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly insist his agency is holding those who do try to come across the border. But numerous officials I talked to on the ground said they're continuing to release those who aren't a security risk, and giving them a date to appear in court.
But even as the number streaming across the Rio Grande has diminished, we found that the detention centers along the border are still full of illegal migrants. But the people detained here are not the new arrivals. The detention centers here that hold immigrants on the border are more rapidly filling up with people from the interior of the United States.
This are people arrested by ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in the interior of United States for living illegally, and they're being held before they're deported. Why wouldn't the new administration detain both the new arrivals and the ones to be deported? The reason is a severe shortage of detention facilities.
Trump has asked Congress for an additional 5,000 beds to detain more migrants. But that's nowhere near the number that are needed, so the administration appears to be putting the priority on rounding up and deporting illegal immigrants already in the country over those who are just arriving. And even with fewer immigrants coming in, border agent worry the numbers could surge again if immigrants get word that catch and release is still the norm.