Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed reports Monday that the Trump administration is considering a plan to separate illegal immigrant parents from their children when they arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum.
Reuters initially reported Saturday that the DHS was considering such a plan, citing three anonymous government sources, who said the plan would serve as a deterrent to migrants planning to come north to the U.S. from Mexico or other Central American countries.
Currently when asylum-seeking migrant adults enter the U.S. with children, they are released after their initial detainment pending the outcome of their asylum request. It’s at that time that the migrants typically disappear and illegally establish roots in the U.S.
The new plan would prevent the adults from being released while their asylum request is being processed. But because federal law mandates that minors can't be detained for long periods of time, Kelly said the children would eventually be split from their parents.
“I’m considering exactly that,” Kelly told CNN host Wolf Blitzer on Monday. "I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America to getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up through Mexico into the United States."
Kelly explained that the driving force behind the plan is the safety of the migrants traveling through Mexico from Central America, who are almost always exploited — for money or sex — by the powerful drug cartels that control the human trafficking routes into the U.S.
If the plan were implemented, Kelly said the children would be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services to be either put in the foster care system or linked up with other family members already in the U.S.
"We have tremendous experience of dealing with unaccompanied minors,” Kelly said.
Watch Kelly explain the plan below. The relevant portion begins around 6:15: