The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly considering a proposal that would order children migrating with family across the U.S./Mexico border, to be separated from their parents and placed in protective custody until they can be handed over to a U.S. relative or even a state-sponsored guardian.
Three government officials have come forth to confirm that the proposal is under active consideration, Reuters reports. Under current immigration policy, migrants crossing illegally are given orders to cede to eventual legal proceedings, but are ultimately let go until their hearing comes. And the prolonged detainment of children is forbidden. But President Trump has vowed to put an end to the “catch and release” policy, leaving a whole host of questions, including one which asks what will happen to children making the trip with detained parents, who will now be forced to remain in detention while they contest deportation. According to the new proposal, the fate of a child will be overseen by the Department of Health and Human services, which will reportedly place them in a “least restrictive setting,” until their parents’ status is resolved.
The DHS acknowledges that all possibilities remain on the table, and that dividing parent from child is indeed a policy it is exploring, if not for the childrens’ safety, DHS says; then as a means of deterring parents from attempting the trip again after they’ve been released. “The journey north is a dangerous one with too many situations where children – brought by parents, relatives or smugglers – are often exploited, abused or may even lose their lives,” the DHS has said in a statement on the possible piece of legislation “With safety in mind, the Department of Homeland Security continually explores options that may discourage those from even beginning the journey.”
The administration’s review of the proposal comes during a three month period in which double the amount of migrants apprehended over the same period last year, were brought into custody. The DHS calculates that around 54,000 children and guardians were detained between October 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017.