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.
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.
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.
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.
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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