Children could be separated from parents if families caught crossing border illegally

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting in Washington

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting in Washington

The newspaper, citing a Department of Homeland Security official, reported a new Trump administration policy would separate parents and children in the event a family is detained for crossing the U.S. -Mexico border illegally.

Those who enter the USA illegally will not be detained and returned over the border; anyone who crosses into the country illegally can expect to be held for prosecution, the LA Times reported. The Wall Street Journal, citing the Department of Health and Human Services, reported earlier Monday that 700 children had been separated from their families since October of previous year.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to refer anyone who enters the United States illegally on the Mexican border to his office for prosecution. "If you're smuggling a child, then we are going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law".

The attorney general said he has sent 35 prosecutors to that region to work on those cases.

He is expected to discuss immigration during a news conference there with with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan.

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"We're here to send a message to the world that we are not going to let the country be overwhelmed", Sessions said. It also could put thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and children in shelters, and is likely to strain an immigration system that has struggled to keep up with a surge in enforcement under President Trump.

No other details have been released.

Sessions' visit follows a March visit by President Donald Trump to Otay Mesa to survey border wall prototypes.

Monday's announcement came about a week after hundreds of Central American migrants traveled to the San Ysidro, Calif., port of entry seeking asylum following a monthlong caravan through Mexico. Together, they would wait for months, or sometimes years, for their day in court to plead their case for asylum before an immigration judge, due to an extensive asylum backlog.

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