Families who are caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally may soon be facing a different welcome once they arrive.
A plan is pending with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that could separate parents from their children once they are caught entering the U.S. illegally, The New York Times reported.
While the proposed policy has been approved by ICE and is favored by the White House, new Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, holds the final approval power and has not yet signed off on the plan.
Aimed at discouraging illegal border crossings, the tougher measures would signal a change from the current policy which keeps families together in special family detention centers while awaiting official decisions. Some families can also currently be released pending a future court date.
But with President Trump’s tough stand on illegal immigration, officials from the National Security Council, the Domestic Policy Council, Homeland Security as well as the Department of Justice and the State Department, met in the fall to discuss ways to discourage illegal border crossings – especially by whole families, the Times reported.
Illegal crossings at the border dropped significantly with Trump taking office, reaching a historic low in April with 11,677 recorded apprehensions – the lowest number in a least 17 years.
The family separation policy was one measure being considered by the Trump administration to curb the number of people crossing the border illegally. White House chief of staff and former DHS Secretary John Kelly received plenty of backlash when he announced earlier this year that DHS was considering the policy. He later clarified that families would only be separated in extreme circumstances.
Other plans under consideration include more stringent background checks of adults who attempt to claim the children after they are apprehended, according to the Times. Random spot checks of homes to which the children are taken is also being considered.
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