McALLEN, RGV — The nation’s top border security official said Monday that his agency has temporarily stopped handing over migrant adults who cross the Mexican border with children for prosecution, undercutting claims by other Trump administration officials that “zero tolerance” for illegal immigration is still in place, the New York Times reports.
Kevin K. McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said his agency and the Justice Department should agree on a policy “where adults who bring their kids across the border — who violate our laws and risk their lives at the border — can be prosecuted without an extended separation from their children.”
Because Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not have enough detention space for the surge of families crossing the border, many families will be quickly released, with a promise to return for a court hearing. Mr. McAleenan said that the agency would continue to refer single adults for prosecution for illegally crossing the border, and that border agents would also separate children from adults if the child is in danger or if the adult has a criminal record.
Mr. McAleenan’s decision, conveyed to reporters at a processing center here, will at least temporarily revive a “catch and release” approach used during the Obama administration. President Trump has repeatedly railed against that approach, saying it invited waves of crime and violence into the United States.
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Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news clip shows Kevin K. McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.