White House mulling new family separation options at US-Mexico border: report

White House mulling new family separation options at US-Mexico border: report
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The White House is considering a change in policy that could result in immigrant parents once again being separated from their children at the border, according to a report in The Washington Post.

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The administration is considering the change as it deals with a new surge in arrests of migrant families in August. 

One policy being discussed would give parents a choice if they are arrested at the border. 

The families would be detained together for 20 days, but parents would then have to decide whether to stay in detention with their children for an indefinite time that could last months or even years, or allow children to be taken to a government shelter, where other relatives could seek their custody.

The Post reported that this option is being called the "binary-choice."

“Career law enforcement professionals in the U.S. government are working to analyze and evaluate options that would protect the American people, prevent the horrific actions of child smuggling, and stop drug cartels from pouring into our communities,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said a statement emailed to the Post.

A spokesperson for the White House did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

The separation of families became a political crisis for the administration earlier this year after children were taken from their families as part of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE's "zero tolerance" policy. The policy resulted in widespread criticism from Republicans and Democrats, and the administration eventually retreated from it. 

The policy did appear to lead to fewer border crossings, and White House adviser Stephen Miller, a hard-liner on immigration, has been pushing for tougher options now that a surge in border crossings is again being seen, according to the Post.

The politics of restarting family separations could be damaging to the GOP, however, and there may also be legal issues. 

Even is parents sign a waiver allowing their children to be taken, lawyers have questioned whether it would be legal.

There is also a question of space as the administration seeks spots for an increasing number of people being detained.