According to a disturbing report from Reuters, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly is reportedly considering a proposal that would separate children from their parents if they’re caught crossing the border illegally. The proposal was reportedly designed to deter illegal crossings.
Kelly confirmed the report in a subsequent CNN interview.
“We have tremendous experience in dealing with unaccompanied minors,” Kelly told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents.”
The policy change would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings.
Children would be put into the “least restrictive setting” until they can be taken into the care of a U.S. relative or state-sponsored guardian, said government officials who were briefed on the proposal.
Currently, families contesting deportation or applying for asylum are generally released from detention quickly and allowed to remain in the United States until their cases are resolved. A federal appeals court ruling bars prolonged child detention.
Kelly justified the proposal by mentioning an unspecified statistic that says 90 percent of women making the trip from Central America are sexually assaulted.
As expected, Kelly’s comments were met with disgust from immigrant advocates.
“Bottom line: separating mothers and children is wrong,” Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said in a statement on Friday.
“That type of thing is where we depart from border security and get into violating human rights.”
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