The Biden administration is considering reinstating the policy of detaining migrant families who cross the border illegally, a practice President Joe Biden had ended when he came into office, two administration officials said.
It is one of several options administration officials are mulling as they prepare for the end of Title 42, the public health order that allows border agents to immediately turn away certain migrants who crossed the southern border illegally.
White House and Department of Homeland Security officials have had multiple meetings in recent days to discuss the possibility of reviving the practice ahead of the anticipated expiration of Title 42 in May and as migrant border crossings remain high.
The White House declined to comment.
“No decisions have been made as we prepare for the Title 42 Public Health Order to lift,” a Homeland Security spokesperson told News84Media. “The Administration will continue to prioritize safe, orderly, and humane processing of migrants.”
One official said the administration is looking at multiple options for how to handle migrant families at the southern border, not all of them involving family detention.
Another source familiar with the deliberations added that among the options discussed are some that wouldn’t involve detaining families in ICE facilities. This source said that family detentions would be limited to a small number of days – an attempt to set the policy apart from the Trump administration’s handling of family detentions.
The New York Times was first to report the possible policy change.
Biden has increasingly turned to tougher border enforcement measures in recent months, drawing criticism from immigrant advocates and progressive Democrats who view the changes as a return to some of the policies under President Donald Trump.
The administration released a new rule last month that largely bars migrants who traveled through other countries on their way to the US-Mexico border from applying for asylum in the United States, marking a departure from decadeslong protocol.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.