The White House renews consideration of plans to separate immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
The Trump Administration was forced by courts to halt its initial break-up of immigrant families, under a “zero tolerance” policy launched in April. Almost 2,700 children were seized and put in detention centers, sometimes thousands of miles away. More than 400 are still separated, often because parents have been deported.
“Several administration officials with direct knowledge of the effort” said that, despite a legal right to seek asylum, families may be detained for up to 20 days. Parents would then have a choice — stay in detention with their child for months or even years, or allow children to be taken to a Government shleter where other relatives or guardians can seek custody.
Department of Homeland Security officials said that, during the court block on family separations, the number of immigrant family members arrested and charged with illegal crossing of the border surged 38% in August to reach a record level.
Officials said senior White House advisor Stephen Miller, a vehement opponent of immigration, is pressing for the new plans. He reportedly believes the separations in the spring deterred illegal crossings.
The sources said that some White House and Homeland Security staff are concerned about the “optics” and political backlash of renewed separations, but that Miller and his allies are determined to act. There have been several high-level meetings in the White House in recent weeks over the plans.
Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a written statement: “Career law enforcement professionals in the US Government are working to analyze and evaluate options that would protect the American people, prevent the horrific actions of child smuggling, and stop drug cartels from pouring into our communities.”