Homeland Security officials want to prosecute all parents who cross border with kids: report

Homeland Security officials want to prosecute all parents who cross border with kids: report
© Greg Nash

Various immigration and border officials are pressing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer Four heated moments from House hearing on conditions at border facilities MORE to prosecute all parents crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally with their children, The Washington Post reports.

Officials believe that prosecuting parents with children could set an example for other families looking to cross the border illegally and that it would be the "most effective" way to slow the number of people crossing into the U.S., according to a memorandum obtained by the Post. 

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The memo reportedly says that the number of attempted border crossing by parents with their children rose to almost 700 per day last week. 

The Post reports that the document warns that the number of attempted border crossings could continue to rise if Nielsen does not act. 

The majority of parents caught trying to illegally cross the border are released to wait for subsequent deportation hearings. 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokeswoman Katie Waldman told The Hill that the department would enforce current laws and that the department does not have a policy of separating families. 

"As Secretary Nielsen said, we will enforce immigration laws as set forth by Congress. DHS is looking at all options in conjunction with the Attorney General's zero tolerance policy for those illegally crossing the border. We will not comment further on internal deliberations," Waldman said. 

"Again, DHS does not have a policy of separating families at the border for deterrence purposes. DHS does, however, have a legal obligation to protect the best interests of the child whether that be from human smugglings, drug traffickers, or nefarious actors who knowingly break our immigration laws and put minor children at risk."

The report comes after Nielsen warned on Thursday that the federal government is prepared to prosecute Central American migrants from a caravan planning to cross the U.S. border this weekend.

The caravan of migrants arrived at the U.S.-Mexican border on Thursday, and the first batch of asylum seekers are expected to try to enter the U.S. at a border crossing near San Diego on Sunday.

The group is composed of mostly women and children, according to The Associated Press.