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The Department of Homeland Security is considering forcefully separating adults and children who are apprehended illegally crossing the border together, Reuters reported Friday.
The report, attributed to three unnamed U.S. government officials, said part of the reason for separating children from the adults who cross with them was to discourage illegal family crossings.
Under such a policy, parents could be kept in custody while they await deportation, while the children would be kept under protective Department of Health and Human Services custody.
Prolonged detention of children is currently barred under a federal appeals court ruling, reported Reuters.
MSNBC also reported Friday night that Asylum Division Chief John Lafferty told staffers that DHS had already located 20,000 beds for detention of asylum seekers, according to notes from the meeting. That would be a nearly 500 percent increase from current capacity, MSNBC reported.
The notes show he also said that DHS has to commit more resources to border detention facilities and is working with Congress to get additional funding.
The measures could further President Trump's campaign promise to end "catch and release," by which undocumented immigrants are allowed freedom within the United States while awaiting immigration proceedings.
Due to the lack of immigration judges, the wait for those proceedings can often take years.
Border apprehensions dropped sharply from December to January but were significantly higher than they were a year ago.
According to a Customs and Border Protection report, apprehensions were mainly due to crossings by "family units and unaccompanied children from Central America, Haitian nationals migrating from Brazil, and Cuban nationals."
Total family unit apprehensions increased 120 percent in January compared to the previous year, but the proportion of Mexican and Central American migrants was lower.
Apprehensions of individuals traveling as families from El Salvador decreased by nearly 30 percent, to 19,018; from Guatemala by 29 percent, to 16,365; and from Honduras by nearly 21 percent, to 16,027.
Apprehensions of Mexicans traveling in family units plummeted by 65 percent, to 1,187.
Updated at 10:13 p.m.