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Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly makes a statement on issues related to visas and travel, Monday, March 6, 2017, at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Homeland Security may separate immigrants crossing the border illegally from their kids

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The Department of Homeland Security is considering separating children from parents caught crossing the border into the U.S., Secretary John Kelly told CNN on Monday.

Under the proposed plan, parents would be detained, and children would either be sent to relatives in the U.S. or put in government care. Currently, women and children are held in one of three detention centers before an immigration judge decides their case, The Washington Post reports.

Homeland Security may separate immigrants crossing the border illegally from their kids

WATCH | Here's the interview where he brought up the possibility.

I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up from Mexico.
John Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary

Kelly said he was doing this for the would-be immigrants' own good, even if it appeared heartless to the average person. 

Kelly said when minors cross the border alone, they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services before they are placed in foster care or with family members in the U.S.

But immigration lawyer Manoj Govindaiah told the Post that children who cross with their families are less likely than unaccompanied children to have family in the U.S. And placing them in foster care can be very expensive. 

I think people would risk everything just to find safety, even if that means separation from their loved ones.
Manoj Govindaiah

Immigration law expert Barbara Hines argued this change wouldn't deter illegal immigration, since the families seeking to enter are often in fear for their lives. 

Illegal immigrants from El Salvador are searched prior to boarding an MD-80 aircraft for a repatriation flight of 80 illegal immigrants back to their home country, Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operate four to five repatriation flights weekly out of Mesa to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Shackled violent offenders, minors and women are separated on the flight and are turned over to El Salvador's immigration officers upon arrival. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Illegal immigrants from El Salvador are searched prior to boarding an MD-80 aircraft for a repatriation flight of 80 illegal immigrants back to their home country, Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operate four to five repatriation flights weekly out of Mesa to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Shackled violent offenders, minors and women are separated on the flight and are turned over to El Salvador's immigration officers upon arrival. (AP Photo/Matt York)

President Trump recently overhauled immigration policies, calling his new plans a "military operation." And thousands of undocumented immigrants said in a recently expanded lawsuit they were forced into slave labor.

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