- The Trump administration is reportedly considering a new family separation policy for immigrants who cross the US-Mexico border with their children.
- Instead of forcibly splitting up immigrant families at the border, as authorities did under the “zero tolerance” immigration policy, the parents would face a “binary choice” to be held as a family in detention or have their children released without them.
- The renewed family separations push is being spearheaded by Trump’s senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, who reportedly believed that the original “zero tolerance” policy was effective in deterring illegal immigration.
The Trump administration could soon revive its practice of separating immigrant families at the border by offering them a choice between indefinite detention and separation, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing senior administration officials.
The new policy would not exactly replicate the controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy that caused a public uproar in the springtime, when authorities forcibly split more than 2,500 children from their parents.
Instead, immigrant families would face a “binary choice,” meaning they could opt to stay together in detention as a family unit while their potentially yearslong immigration cases wind through the court system, or parents could choose to have their children released to government shelters and eventually turned over to other relatives or guardians.
The effort is the Trump administration’s latest push to handle the growing number of Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the US in recent months.
“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,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley told The Post in a statement.
The Post also reported that the renewed family separations push is being spearheaded by Trump’s senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, one of the administration’s staunchest immigration hardliners.
Miller reportedly believes that the zero-tolerance immigration policy had a deterrent effect on asylum-seekers crossing the border around the springtime, prompting fewer to cross in the summer months. Though the overall border-crossing apprehension numbers did fall in June and July, those months typically see a drop due to seasonal trends.
Customs and Border Protection data shows that even though illegal border-crossings remain near the bottom of a decades-long downward trend, the amount of family units arrested by Border Patrol is unusually high.
In previous years, the bulk of the border-crossers were comprised of single men and unaccompanied children. But in recent months, Border Patrol agents have been finding massive groups of dozens – or even hundreds – of immigrants traveling together, often led by smugglers.