Published: Wed, March 08, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

DHS considering separating undocumented children from parents

DHS considering separating undocumented children from parents

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed he is considering an initiative that would separate immigrant children from their parents if they enter the us illegally.

When questioned by host Wolf Blitzer about how separating children from their parents "looks to the average person", Mr Kelly replied: "It's more important for me to try and keep people off of this very bad network".

He added that he expects the measure will help the United States to restrict Central Americans from "getting on this very, very unsafe network that brings them up through Mexico into the United States".

"We have tremendous experience in dealing with unaccompanied minors".

A senior DHS official had previously told CNN that the department was considering a proposal to separate children from adults when they are trying to enter the country illegally at the southern border.

Kelly said such a move would be part of a broader effort to discourage families from making the unsafe trek across Mexico to the US border.

He noted the DHS turns them over to the Health and Human Services department, which puts the children in foster care or links them with parents or family members in the United States.

Homeland Security officials have been struggling to curb the flow of children and families at the Mexican border since 2014, when there was a huge spike in attempted crossings by people fleeing violence in countries such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The Obama administration came under fire from Democrats and immigrant advocates and faced lawsuits for long-term detention of children with their mothers, and it began to move most families through the system more quickly ― screening them and releasing most while they waited for court hearings.

Mr. Kelly, though, said the answer is for families to not begin a journey that could end with the separation of children and parents. He said children removed from their mothers and fathers would be "well cared for as we deal with their parents".

Leon Fresco, who led the Justice Department's Office of Immigration Litigation under President Obama, said the government has been considering separating families since that 2016 federal court ruling, the Associated Press reported.

Another problem, he said, is that separating children from their mothers could mean that they would have individual, rather than joint asylum claims, possibly in separate jurisdictions. This is why the current stays in family detention facilities rarely last more than a few days. Instead, families were detained as a unit or released as a unit. "Who knows what they're going to do with them?"

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