Trump Says It. Should Journalists? On ‘Catch and Release.’

Several readers expressed concern with our use of the phrase “catch and release” in our immigration coverage. Our deputy National editor Kim Murphy reflects on their feedback.


Comments: 92

  1. Publicize his phrase. It is Trump

    Enough with TTrump talk i have had it
    He’s done little but he will pad it
    Spews hate like a hose
    Our borders would close
    Relations with friends will lie shattered

    With pinky to thumb waves a hand
    Adds illogic none understand
    But pillage and rape
    Which none can escape
    Is surging ‘cross the Rio Grande.

    Splits fam’lies quarantines the kids
    Hires jailers for the lowest bids
    Sends kids everywhere
    Lets Moms tear their hair
    Puts immigration on the skids.

    Says Whites made this country so great
    All the non Whites here we should hate
    They’re poor and they’re dumb
    Whites made all things hum
    As scholars all Whites are top rate.

    Don’s base wants to kneel and kowtow
    To his vapid mind they all bow
    We say he’s a crook
    Dimwitted shnook
    The base thinks the Don is a wow.

  2. Good answer and correct in my opinion although the lead up to the final decision was excessive and convoluted. Thank you for a good decision.

  3. "Catch and release" is such a common fishing term that I honestly don't know how any editor could not pick up on that. It is dehumanizing.

  4. For those arrested and released without bail isn't the term Released on own recognizance? ROR for short.

  5. What would the NYT use as a replacement phrase? "Intercept, detain, and release"?

    Regardless of the terminology lets follow through to the result of this policy. Parents arrive with kids, and our good-hearted immigration system lets them in with a promise to return for a hearing. They disappear and 15 years later the kids are "americanized", just like the DACA individuals. No way we can deport them or their parents now.

    And guess what, these "refugees" write home telling their friends what suckers we all are.

  6. That's a fairy tale told by Sean Hannity and Fox News. Actually, net migration is negative or very low compared historically, migrants are hard workers ineligible for welfare, they add billions of dollars to our economy, and mostly do work we "Muricans" won't touch. Or do YOU want to pick strawberries all day or butcher cattle in the meat packing plant?

  7. Due process, or observing the eighth amendment both come to mind.

  8. The phrase distances. These are actual people. Anything that serves to objectify them, dehumanizes US.

  9. Journalists should not use the term “catch and release,” when they could easily use another term (arrest and release) to accurately report facts. “Catch and release” is a dehumanizing term, regadless of who originated its use.

  10. Thank you for stepping up and owning this, and properly addressing it. This is why I respect the New York Times. Mistakes are made, especially in this chaotic news environment. But thoughtfully considering the views of readers is the hallmark of a great news organ.

  11. I find myself impressed by the ability of the Trump administration to shift the narrative with the use of language. It’s further evidence that we should be afraid of the shifting norms (really, the total decimation of norms) by Trump and his administration.

    If the Grey Lady finds itself using “catch and release” because its been normalized by the administration, we’re in trouble.

  12. President Trump has made a habit of demonizing individuals and dehumanizing people he does not like. He talks about immigrants infesting our society. This catch and release phrase is another example of him making immigrants of color seem less than good White people. The MS 13 are animals. All immigrants are animals. Put them in cages. Then you can release them. Catch and release. It is despicable to use the term when discussing human beings. I’m glad the Times is discussing this topic. I must say I find it to be a very distasteful phrase when you are discussing people. Please stop using it. Don’t let President Trump become the style editor for the Times.
    A reader for more than 50 years

  13. Great decision! Now please apply this to every phrase you repeat.

    I appreciate your responsiveness to the readers; hope now you can do this more often before readers have to call it out. Not expecting perfection; but hoping we all ate more attuned to the words we use!

  14. Speaking of responsiveness to readers, I still lamenbt the demise of the Public Editor's function. The reader center is more of a mouthpiece than an independent critique of the paper, and it's not as easy to find. It at least should be given a more prominent spot, say in the Opinion section, and its content should be steered a bit less by NYT staff and more by readers.

  15. Not a good phrase. Best to avoid it. The only reason to use it should be in an article on Trump’s dehumanising language.

  16. I also was only previously familiar with this phrase relative to fishing. And, for that reason, I likewise have thought it dehumanizes immigrants facing this situation While I doubt that was the original intent it is still inappropriate and I'm glad someone spoke up.

  17. Thank you for addressing this. I would cringe whenever reading or hearing this phrase.

  18. Catch and release makes a nice visual of what we are actually doing. We are catching illegal immigrants breaking the law, and we are releasing them into society, hoping for the best. I’d prefer to be using the term deported.

  19. Thanks for publishing this. I was about to write today, I was so fed up with what seemed your adoption of the term as a neutral description, so I’m glad you’ll remove it from normal usage. Besides the dehumanizing aspect, the phrase also implies that the migrants never appear in court after being “released” when in fact a high majority return. It would be nice if you also made it clear that migrants do show up in court without having to be detained.

  20. Thank you for addressing the offensive use of phrase "catch and release" by the current administration and others. The phrase is dehumanizing and especially so because it is now being used in concert with words like "infest," "vermin," and other terms intended to dehumanize those seeking to enter our country from its southern border.

  21. I am forever taken aback by our insistence on such extreme manifestations of political correctness on matters that have absolutely no impact on reality, while we completely ignore accuracy as legitimate political correctness on matters that have a profound impact on our arc as a society.

    At worst, "catch and release" is mildly offensive to SOME, precisely because it's a catchy phrase that is so compelling a simile in its fishing evocation to what we used to do at the border -- because we never simply handed illegal aliens green cards and forgot about them. But we labor painfully at these inaccurate descriptors such as "undocumented immigrant", to avoid calling illegal aliens what they actually are: illegal aliens; and anything BUT "immigrants" of any lawful kind.

    A key indicator of the unravelling of a society is such invention of language as "undocumented immigrant" to flog this or that ideological trope.

  22. What a backwards claim you make. "Undocumented" is accurate. "Immigrant" is accurate. "Catch and release" is a fishing term, as you admit, and not appropriate for human beings; the whole point of the reader complaints is that it is both inaccurate and demeaning to apply it to people, catchy as it may be.

    BTW, my late mother, an Englishwoman who immigrated here legally, found it offensive to be called an "alien" in government paperwork before she became a citizen. That was decades ago; since then, our culture has used the term so often to mean extraterrestrial non-humans that I would hesitate to use it in these days of deliberate dehumanization of people by this nasty administration. We don't have to go along with that, you know.

  23. You are citing a statistic from FY 2015. Since then, the percentage of undocumented migrants coming to their hearings has increased. The Trump administration discontinued an Obama administration program for asylum seekers that produced 100% court attendance and 99% attendance at ICE hearings. If people "disappear", that is partly because we are choosing that. We could, if we want, do a much better job of monitoring any released detainee.

    Also, remember it's not as if failing to appear for the immigration hearings has no consequence. Failing to appear normally results in an automatic deportation order being entered "in absentia." But it seems you are less interested in facts than slogans.

  24. You are citing a statistic from FY 2015. Since then, the percentage of undocumented migrants coming to their hearings has increased. The Trump administration discontinued an Obama administration program for asylum seekers that produced 100% court attendance and 99% attendance at ICE hearings. If people "disappear", that is partly because we are choosing that. We could, if we want, do a much better job of monitoring any released detainee.

    Also, remember it's not as if failing to appear for the immigration hearings has no consequence. Failing to appear normally results in an automatic deportation order being entered "in absentia." But it seems you are less interested in facts than slogans.

  25. "Catch and release" was in use as a pejorative long before the Trump Administration, to criticize Obama era policies.

    Just as bad as the intent to criticize Obama era policy was the broad and inaccurate application of the term. It was applied to both legal asylum seekers and those caught crossing the border illegally.

    Over 99% of asylum seekers equipped with ankle bracelets appear for court dates according to ICE data, so that part works pretty much as intended.

    The vast majority of those captured near the border during the Obama era were "voluntary returns", meaning they were returned immediately to Mexico without prosecution but with the threat of prosecution if they return.

  26. Murphy: "... making sure they include it only in reference to the administration’s use of the phrase; we don’t want to make it ours."

    That's not good enough. The phrase should only be used in direct quotes attributed to named sources. The linked article bungles all five uses of the phrase:

    1. Vague attribution:

    '... effectively returning to the “catch and release” policy that President Trump promised to eliminate.'

    2. A paraphrase is not a direct quote:

    "Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, called the return to catch and release unfortunate ..."

    3. Vague attribution -- or is this a paraphrase? Unsourced generalization ("for years"). Editorializing ("railed"):

    "Mr. Trump has for years railed against catch and release, ..."

    4. Copy-editing mistake -- terms under discussion should be in quotes. Vague attribution. Editorializing ("pejorative"). Factual inaccuracy ("jailing" excludes "releasing"):

    "Catch and release is a term with no legal definition and has been used as a pejorative alternative to jailing illegal immigrants."

    5. A paraphrase is not a direct quote:

    "Leon Fresco ... said putting ankle bracelets on migrants is a return to what the Trump administration itself has described as catch and release; ..."

  27. LCV: '4. ... Factual inaccuracy ("jailing" excludes "releasing"): ...'

    Correcting myself. This sentence is incoherent:

    "Catch and release is a term with no legal definition and has been used as a pejorative alternative to jailing illegal immigrants."

    It claims that "catch and release" has no "legal definition", yet it contrasts that undefined legal process with another, presumably well-defined, legal process.

    The solution is to use the correct legal terminology in all cases except in direct quotes.

  28. It’s catch and release and chain migration. Stop the leftist nonsense.

  29. The current administration may use the term “catch and release” but the former administration (Obama) did very little for immigrants, like they could care less! How come no meltdown from the media and the Democrats when Obama was president?

  30. Those ankle bracelets look like they could be easily cut off with a pair of heavy duty scissors. They are meaningless. These people should be deported. They are economic migrants, not genuine asylum seekers. They have been coached as what to say to get asylum.

    The US cannot accept the billions of the worlds’ poor. The law has to be changed so that asylum claims have to be made in the country of origin, not here. Most asylum claims are deemed false and they are deported.

    We have plenty of Americans who need our government’s help: our homeless kids, families, vets, mentally ill and drug addicted, our poor seniors...

    Americans first, before illegals, lest we become the third world country these people are fleeing. They need to stay in their country and protest, march and demand that their government improve their lives. They seem to know how to do this when they get to the US.

  31. Perhaps everyone should relax and be a little less sensitive. After all, Jesus was the " Lamb of God". If animal metaphors didn't bother Him, they shouldn't bother us.

  32. Yes it is a dehumanizing phrase.Trump uses dehumanizing and belittling phrases all the time. but it is more than this. Trump sabotages and undermines everything and everybody he comes in contact with except his base, which he uses to feed his ego.
    We know Trump is narcissistic. But we do not know the extent of that disorder. Does it extend to everything he does? This may be true. How can we find out just how far this disorder extends? If narcissism informs everything he does it would explain all the bizarre actions and reactions that make no sense and sometimes seem downright disturbed. It is because he is disturbed. So what now? He cannot and will not change. But he can upset the balance of everything around him and everything that comes in contact with him. Welcome to chaos.Watch it get worse.

  33. According to the Center for Immigration Studies (March 2017), 37 percent of all illegals released for the past 20 years have failed to show up for their hearings.

    So how about we change it to catch and deport. No reference to fish now.

  34. The neutral-sounding "Center for Immigration Studies" is a profoundly ideological anti-immigrant group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has even put on its list of hate groups.

  35. Worrying about terms like catch and release is political correctness run amok. Though not as bad as the Orwellian use of the phrase undocumented worker when referencing to illegal aliens.

  36. 99% of asylym seekers show up in court, and border crossers may get "released" back to Mexico, neither the image given by "catch and release."

    But perhaps we can turn fishing around. Take the lure called "crankbait." Trump's tweets are pure crankbait. Better than dog whistle may be "casting spoon", the flashy bits that attract bottom feeders. Trump likes "chumming" with our enemies. Of course "trolling" is already in use, especially by right wing minnows. But Trump is a sucker for "tube bait."

  37. As someone who is in favor of extreme measures to end the invasion of our country, I rise to defend the use of the term "catch and release." The Times loses all credibility by these choices, using verbal gymnastics to twist and distort the plain meaning of objective facts. So The Times will no longer use "catch and release." The Times also seems to have jettisoned the phrase "illegal immigrants" in favor of something that sounds more palatable to some, such as "the undocumented." Yet The Times fools no one and is no longer an objective news source but the propaganda arm of the extreme left. The Obama Administration was given a pass on this phrase and virtually everything else, but now that Trump has adopted a common and accurate phrase, it suddenly becomes evil. Why? Because Trump is using it, and anything he says becomes evil, according to The Times and its ilk.

    Personally, I like the term "economic terrorists" to describe illegal aliens, which is exactly what they are. Oh, is that too harsh for the bleeding hearts? Another good term would be "invasive species," also accurate, and we know what invasive species do to the local species.

  38. It dehumanizes people, regardless of their legal status. It should not be used by reporters, unless they're directly quoting the administration.

  39. Thank you for this thoughtful action. The phrase "catch and release" is not only dehumanizing but misleading. The word release suggests that they are just let go without follow up or consequences. Asylum seekers are released with ankle monitors or bonds with a follow up appt with ICE. If they fail to keep that appt, they are subject to deportation.

  40. It's wrong to use "catch and release" in a headline without further context, as you did in an earlier story. No matter what kind of balance you're trying to strike, that usage plays into the president's hands. I don't feel this wording should be used at all, but if it must, then use it only in the body of stories and add "a phrase derived from fishing that activists have criticized as dehumanizing" or something similar. Thanks.

  41. I am gratified that you will not be using the phrase "catch and release," a reference to a fishing practice, however I disagree with some of your definitions of other Trump catchphrases. "Big beautiful wall," is not a metaphor for "secure the borders." It means exactly what it says, to build a big, physical wall at the border. Similarly, "Drain the swamp," never meant the reduction of the bureacracy, but rather to get rid of what he considered corruption in our government. As we know, he has instead enlarged the swamp beyond imagination.

  42. ""Catch and release" is pretty mild compared to other Republican misuse of catch phrases. For example:

    1. "Death Tax" This tries to make it appear that everyone pays estate tax when they die, & that the estate tax is a tax on death. In fact, only the estates of the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans owe any estate tax. Furthermore of the estates that do pay tax, 80 percent of the value has NEVER been taxed at all. It it were not for the estate tax, this money belonging to the very rich would NEVER be taxed.

    2. "deplorables" This word, savagely ripped out of context from a remark by Hillary Clinton, is used to imply that she & other Democrats regard all Trump voters with disdain. This is precisely the opposite of what she said.

    She said some of Trump's supporters were "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it." This is undeniable. BUT then she said there were others of his supporters who were "people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change."

    She ended with, "Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well."

    3. "unsustainable" This is sometimes used by Democrats also to indicate that some policy cannot continue. Well, nothing lasts forever, & they never say over what period the policy would fail. Neither do they ever provide any data to show their claim is true.

  43. Clinton literally said in a speech that half of Trump supporters were within the basket of deplorables, and called them racist, sexist etc. Here's the Wikipedia link to help clear up this misinformation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket_of_deplorables

    How her insulting and dismissing 50% of his supporters is somehow taken out of context and doesn't show disdain is beyond me.

    Maybe we have always been at war with with Eurasia....

  44. Times, please don't use the term "catch and release". It's dehumanizing. It makes people seem like fish, something that we humans (including me) manipulate, kill, eat, scale, and gut. If you must use it for any reason, please refer to it as "so-called catch and release".

    By the same token, please abandon the antiquated term "pro-life". These people are not pro-life, they are the pro-forced birth camp.

  45. Characterizing humans as animals is a long-standing first step of racism. As we become inured to seeing certain sets of people as animals, treating them as such becomes much easier to stomach. It then becomes an easy step to see separating children from their parents - the first act that greeted arrivals at Auschwitz no less than immigrants applying for asylum on the southern border- as a "great act of generosity."

  46. “Catch and release” is a term used to describe what fly-fishermen do with trout. It is not a term that should ever be used to describe treatment of human beings.

  47. No: Trump should not be setting the terms of our discourse. Another disturbing acceptance by the press of a Conservative re-definition is the use of the term "religious freedom." This term apparently now means "freedom to discriminate against people we are prejudiced against, as long as we claim that the prejudice is based on our religious beliefs"--even when the discriminators are mere bakers of "masterpiece" wedding cakes or owners of a "craft" store chain. Religious freedom used to mean that one could not be forced to conform to (or at least give lip-service to) other people's religious dogmas and practices, a freedom especially significant when those controlling "other people" were people in power.The term has never referred to a license to express ideas that are hurtful, discriminatory, or worse. (NOT expressing such ideas used to be called "good manners": now such a practice is stigmatized as "political correctness.") Just because the world is topsy-turvy doesn't mean the Times has to go that way, too!

  48. Do better.

    Stop using the term unless it's within a direct quote.

  49. Glad to see that Kim Murphy is making an attempt to remove this phrase. Sometimes it appears that news writing has become lazy, relying on catchwords instead of measured thought. Hope other editors and copy desks become more vigilant.

    Correcting slangy grammar would also be a help. My pet peeve is the current use of couple + noun, e.g., "a couple recipes" instead of "a couple of recipes." Incorrect grammar makes writers look uneducated - I expect better from the Times.

  50. I want it to be referred to as pro-active monitoring.

  51. Don't use the phrase.
    It is demeaning and it only feeds into the hatred and racism Trump spews.
    Immigrants are people.
    People.
    Just like you and me.

    Don't use terms that refer to animals when talking about human beings.
    Can't we at least agree on that?

  52. I was going to write you for the same reason. If you need a short phrase, it should perhaps be: "arrest and monitor," "arrest and supervise," or "seize, release and surveil". It can't be hard for NYTimes writers to do better than simply mimic the insulting catchphrases of the president.

  53. 90% turn up for their hearing.

  54. I thpught the pharse as being rather benign. But then at 75 years, I've heard some "catchphrases" that would blow your socks off. Many describing people of different ethnicities in situations. My father and his generation were classic in finding something "cutting" to say about "others".

    All in good humor though, hah!

  55. words matter in shaping the debate. the phrase should not be used to refer to how we treat other human beings, especially those seeking asylum or fleeing conflict. "welcome and investigate" or "accept and report" or "receive and verify" or some other variant would be more appropriate. our nation and the people who seek to enter this country both deserve that we employ language that conveys their dignity. the NYT can be a significant actor in changing the language and perhaps ultimately the tone of the immigration discussion.

  56. "Several readers have written to The Times ..."

    In the past, they could have written to the Public Editor.

    "We asked our deputy national editor Kim Murphy to respond."

    A Public Editor could have provided an independent and informed critique of that response.

    So readers are confined to the Times's echo chamber.

  57. "Catch and Release" is a metaphor, and a loaded one. It clearly outlines the idea of border enforcement in which people are shipped back over the border to try to cross again.

    The loaded part of the phrase is not that it dehumanizes, but that it trivializes - trivializes desperation, despair, and danger that lies behind illegally attempting to cross into our country.

    When used to signal the Trump admininstration's failure to see the people coming into our country as desperate, let alone valuable in their own right, it is a valuable phrase. When used without admission of its metaphorical burden,it is demeaning.

    So yes, be careful in its use. But also recognize that it is a powerful tool to use to explain the Trump administration. They really don't care how much people suffer, as long as they can throw them back.

  58. With regards to this "desperation and despair" you speak of, why don't such persons just head to the border with Costa Rica, close by and a thriving democracy? Wouldn't that be more sensible?

  59. @Cathy

    Wrong. This phrase is used to describe allowing people to stay once they enter. In other words released INTO the States. Trump is not even a proponent of the policy.

  60. The point is to convert a description of something or some one into propaganda. Newspeak in Orwellian terms. We call former presidents by their former title so that president Obama is still called president Obama. When Trump leaves office we should eventually call inmate 215892, or whatever number is assigned when he gets his orange suit and close haircut. The use of the word "president" in connection with Donald Trump is an insult to that office as was his time in power.

  61. Unfortunately, mainstream media sources including the Times have been reporting Trump propaganda phrases like "catch and release," repeating the phrases during coverage, asking the other side like Democrats what they think of the phrases, etc. This magnifies the power of propaganda, increasing it"s effectiveness. Phrases like "catch and release" were invented by far rightwing spin artists like Frank Kuntz or Roger Stone to deliberately demean immigrants and dehumanize them. Then it's easier to justify applying brutal treatment methods like ripping babies from their crying mother's arms, warehousing random groups of parent less children in secret office buildings in Phoenix for weeks without daylight, and immediately deporting asylum seekers without due process and without their children now lost somewhere in the dysfunctional system.

    These are unspeakable times. Refusing to use and repeat Trump's disgusting, lying propaganda is the least we can do. The sooner we all realize he is a witting Russian asset, hellbent on destabilizing the Western alliance, maintaining his own illegitimate grip on power, and NEVER LEAVING until force is applied, the better off we'll be.

  62. "Catch and release" is used because the government (1) "catches" people illegally entering the United States and, (2) instead of holding them pending hearing, "releases" them. Duh.

    The fact that the phrase has another meaning in terms of fishing (which many Americans, myself included, never heard of) does not render the expression offensive, except to those who find offense in anything and everything done in support of immigration enforcement.

    That The New York Times even dignified these ridiculous complaints shows its bias against the views of the vast majority of Americans who want our immigration laws enforced. You long ago stopped using "illegal immigrant" even though it is a softer version of what the law actually uses ("illegal alien") and accurately describes the lawlessness of their conduct and now you want to ban "catch and release" too because, well, of fish?

    Meanwhile, in your heavily moderated comments, you let loony left liberals accuse law-abiding American citizens (without a shred of evidence) of being "racists," and "Nazis" who "hate brown people" and are beneficiaries of "white privilege."

    The Times won't use any term negatively describing anyone who intentionally breaks immigration laws but believes all should be free to say the nastiest, vile things about people who believe that immigration laws in the United States, as in all other countries in the world, must be enforced. For them it's all the slurs that's fit to print.

  63. '... what the law actually uses ("illegal alien") ...'

    For example:

    8 U.S. Code § 1365 - Reimbursement of States for costs of incarcerating illegal aliens and certain Cuban nationals

    And "alien" is defined here:

    8 U.S. Code § 1101 - Definitions
    '(3) The term “alien” means any person not a citizen or national of the United States.'

    Source: law.cornell.edu

  64. Please, also use this litmus test to judge the descriptors for the president and his actions as well - disruptor, different, not the norm, billionaire, deal maker, outsider, deliberating and the list seems endless. These words and more give Trump the facade of being a man with vision and extraordinary skills. The drumbeat of positive sounding attributes and leadership type activities creates over time a false picture of a man who stands tall in his office.

    Abnormal, selfish, thoughtless, destructive, petty seem more accurate.

  65. Billboard's Top 20 are all sung by the same crooner. All stations play it non-stop without competence interruption.

    "I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!
    7:25 AM - Jul 9, 2018"

    He's "like, really smart", a "very stable genius" who made it big on his "Greatest Hits for Dummies". His devoted fans sing along. Only his agent would call him "a master of catchphrases", so don't.

    I am happy that Station KNYT will remove his white nationalist-inciting "Catch and Release" from their playlist.

    But, I am unhappy that KNYT then simultaneously published a boxed set of his rantings with HIS liner notes. Stop being his producer, please. Stop equating his broken record of White Victim Funk with some actual accomplishment concerning:
    (trim government bureaucracy)
    (fortify the border)
    (Nafta)
    (China)
    (North Korea)
    (communicating to the American people without lying).

  66. I don't like or support Trump but the term "catch and release" was not created by Trump. This term has been used by both republican and democratic administrations, including Obama. While I can see how it could be construed as pejorative, that was the intention. It was meant to describe exactly what the US does in practice with people illegally crossing the border. They are "caught" and "released" into the US while awaiting an immigration hearing. This practice creates a huge incentive for both good and bad people from other countries, to attempt to cross our borders illegally.

    I often ask people what would happen if they attempted to cross the border illegally into another country, like Israel, without documentation. You can almost guarantee that a US citizen would never attempt it because they believe the consequences would be severe. In the US, there has never been a real deterrent to illegal border entry, only incentives. While I do not approve of Trump separating young children from their parents, I do understand he is trying (albeit the wrong way) to address a real problem in this country that Congress won't address. I support the right to asylum and support the concept of immigration, but it has to be done legally. There are both really good and really bad people trying to come across our borders. For national security purposes, it is essential we can confirm the identity of and vet those who come here.

  67. U.S. citizens, when arrested, ordinarily have a right to be released bail, constitutionally guaranteed by the 8th Amendment. It is noteworthy that the people using the fishing term "catch and release" for immigrants have chosen to ignore that the Founding Fathers insisted that release on bail be available for citizens.

  68. @Daniel Tinkelman

    These people are not citizen. They have just broken the law by crossing our border illegally.

  69. Congress needs to modify our immigration laws. We need them to do their job. Change the law so when someone is caught illegally crossing in to the US, they are immediately deported. However, we can still give them a court date. But instead of letting them go to court in the US, we should station our judges at embassies and consulates in various home countries like Honduras and Guatemala and have them get their cases heard there. This will help with the problem of “catch, release and disappear”......

  70. "Abortion clinic" for women's health center. "Settlers" claiming already-settled land. "Catch and release" would only join a long parade of witless adoption of propaganda terminology.

  71. Why did this have to be pointed out? Shouldn't writers for the Times understand the importance of language usage.

  72. "Should journalists stop reporting on Trump?" is the wrong question.

    "When will so many journalists finally stop endlessly ignoring the real reasons why so many people voted for Trump?" is the much more acute question of our time.

    As one of many examples of such reasons: Establishment Democrat politicians blindly backing a dream opponent for Trump, and pursuing useless kneejerk political correctness and token identity politics rather than lifting a finger to actually work on actually making real reform to address tangible, serious needs and challenges of America.

  73. Thank you for the humility expressed in your willingness to listen to and hear criticism and to change your behavior in response. Our world needs more of this!

  74. Depends, doesn't it, on if you think there is 'catching' to be done.

    Many millions of Americans think not. They think we ought to develop and agree on a coherent immigration policy first, which we have not, and then start to 'catch' violators. And in the meantime we should regard crossing the border as casually as my grandparents did before gang warfare in Central America became such a scourge.

    But many other Americans see no difference between our rules to not cross our border without permission, and other rules, like not running red lights. And many of them feel this is such a serious infraction it makes the offender a 'criminal.'

    A liberal and a Democrat, I'm still in favor of clarity. 'Catch and release' is accurate. The real problem is the bigotry that makes this such a troubling issue. Let's say so.

  75. I would have the NYTimes ask yourselves: knowing that the Trump administration has, in the past, hired outside data firms (such as Cambridge Analytica) to develop these slogans as part of the Trump campaign and the larger part of the Russian movement to influence the American 2016 electoral process, why in the world would you want to repeat them?

    "Drain the swamp" was specifically one of the phrases that was developed by Cambridge Analytica to be catchy and to work well in developing a voting base. It has no real meaning, it's an advertising slogan. You wouldn't write "the quicker-picker-upper" in reference to paper towel, so why would you talk about "drain the swamp"?

    "Catch and release" is probably also another term that has been developed by an analytics firm. So may be "the worst trade deal ever" (which NAFTA certainly is not).

    In other words, using Trump's slogans is essentially free advertising for him. These are campaign phrases with zero semantic meaning. People will place their own beliefs on top of them.

    My final points are the teaching theories of "noticing" and "recycling". The first means that if you use a word or phrase, even if they don't know what they mean, people will store them in the back of their brains until the opportunity comes to use them. The second means that if you use a word or phrase enough times, the brain will automatically memorize it and start using it.

    Use your own words. Trump needs to pay for his own advertising.

  76. I agree with many other commenters that "catch and release" is but one of many examples of the way we casually dehumanize non-white immigrants, especially those from Mexico and Central America. It's not just that the phrase is borrowed from fishing terminology, it's that it conjures up an invasion against which government powerless to do anything such that it must release these dangerous elements into society. It's textbook criminalization of the human right of migration, when exercised by people of color from impoverished countries. The fact that the dehumanization and criminalization of immigrants did not begin with Trump, is not justification for the media perpetuating it.

  77. And here I thought "catch and release" referred to this administration's staff turnover problem.

  78. Surely the NYT's shameful use of the term "ethnic cleansing" should have guided its use of "catch & release". Instead of a sporting term that surely dehumanizes refugees (and they are refugees from Mexico -- they are fleeing gangs and violence) why not use terms like "mercy", "compassion", or "justice" when the full force of the law is not summoned against them?

  79. I found it pretty shocking when some of the more trusted news media began using this term as their own. It's clearly propagandistic and inherently dehumanizing, and acts as insidious encouragement to adopt the thinking of the administration.

  80. Many people voted for Trump so that he could dismantle Roe vs Wade. Journalists just don't want to admit how hated that decision is, which controls what issues voters can and can't vote on. Calling voters "racists" makes them feel better.

  81. I was one of your subscribers who responded to this headline. You let yourselves off too easily here. Whether or not you would ever have thought of the phrase as a fishing metaphor, you knew you were adopting a dehumanizing bit of propaganda. It was a shocking headline. Your cavalier explanation falls short. Your coverage recently has been vital. Please don't shirk from applying the same high critical standards to yourselves as you rightly apply to this administration.

  82. Thank you for writing about this; I've been upset and meaning to write in to the Times for days. The phrase refers to the act of catching fish on hooks for the pleasure of capturing them and then releasing them, often injured by the act of catching them. So, yes, in my view it is utterly dehumanizing and unfit to be used in most instances. Regardless of who originated the term or how long it has been used with respect to immigration policies, it is a deeply offensive term to me.

  83. Donald Trump's skill is in coming up with catchphrases. Most of which are demeaning - think "weak" "pocahontas", etc. By parroting his catchphrases, you normalize the practice of demeaning a person or a whole host of persons. It behooves the Times not only to NOT use Trump's demeaning catch phrases, but to develop alternative descriptions which honor the humanity in all of us.

  84. "Catch and release," "chain migration," "anchor babies" and the like are propaganda tools. They are contemporary accretions to the extremist right lexicon ("cosmopolitan," "international bankers.") They signal affinity between the writer and the Trump base and are intended to inflame, not as serious discussion of policy, except in quotes.

    The Trump catch phrases she cites are no more respectable as shorthand for government policy than "Willy Horton" or "welfare queen." Having spent many years as a reporter at major news agencies, I find it deeply troubling that someone who has risen to such a high level in the business as the NYT's deputy national editor would be insensitized to the analogy between catch and release and fish and its intention--to reduce immigrants--particularly Latinos--to slippery swarms of emotionless creatures. While we're on the subject, what would one call the impending naturalization of Melania Trump's parents?

  85. It's a metaphor, but so is "revolving door". The latter compares a policy to a mechanical device. The former compares people to fish that we prey upon.

    It's purely a stylistic choice, but I think it's unseemly.

  86. Another disgusting term used to dehumanize refugee and immigrants. The same with the term chain migration. It's time to stop normalizing all the subtle ways this administration is undermining democracy and human decency. To perpetuate this administrations destructive propagandist language is lazy and irresponsible on the part of any reputable news source

  87. I totally agree this is a dehumanizing phrase, and I am relieved to see some thought put into the use of the phrase. Language matters.

    However - I am a lot more concerned about the barrage of homophobic images and jokes about the Putin-trump alliance. Particularly at this juncture in our country it's both insensitive and a trigger that I fear will cause a retreat on the support for non-cisgenders as well as more serious repercussions for individuals.

  88. Consider, should journalists adopt the term "fake news" as a convenient shorthand for news the administration disagrees with? Or routinely refer to Kim Jong Un as Rocket Man? Don't think so, NYT? Then don't use catch and release, even in scare quotes.

  89. I appreciate how terms like "catch and release" can be a convenient shorthand. It does make it sound like a game, but that is NOT my main objection. Neither the word "catch" nor "release" describes what is actually being done.

    Is a person being "caught" when they stand in line at an official border crossing and ask for asylum? Is it the right word when someone waves at the Border Patrol and then crosses the border "illegally" to ask for asylum?

    "Release" is also wrong. First, the vast majority of people apprehended by the Border Patrol do not make asylum claims and thus are either immediately deported or jailed. Of those who make asylum claims, about a fifth are immediately rejected and are also deported or jailed. Some of those with enough of a credible claim to get a hearing are still detained purely at the discretion of the Immigration Officer if there are tattoos or other risk factors.

    So "release" does not describe what happens in most cases, and to continue the fishing analogy, they are released into a controlled pond with various forms of monitoring.

    Contrary to statistics cited, they overwhelming DO NOT disappear. The 80% no-show rate is just nonsense and the 40% no-show rate is anyone who missed any legal hearing for any reason, even if they show up for all later hearings or if they are a no-show because they left the country.

  90. The phrase should be retired for another reason.

    It's misleading. The current asylum policy is better called: Come, Apply and We'll Give You Entry to the U.S. Maybe Indefinitely Maybe Not.

    Or maybe it should be, "Catch and Stay."

    As is, many think bonafide, rule following asylum seekers are deported. They are not. They are "released" to U.S. soil. Confusing.

  91. If the shoe fits put it on. This phrase has been used for quite a while and I never thought of it as having a fishing origin, but I thought it accurately described a failed portion of out immigrations law.

    We apprehend people crossing our border illegally but various aspects of our law, coupled with lack of space forces the government to turn them loose in the country. Some are never seen again. skip their hearing and disappear. This is how we got 11 million illegal aliens who need to be deported.

    To me "catch and release" is quick, understandable phrase for one of them many problems with out immigration laws. If we detain someone who illegally crossed our borders we should be able to detain that person until their case is fully adjudicated. They should not be free to hide in some town or city in our country.