The Biden administration is considering a return to the policy of family detention for migrants who cross the border illegally, according to The New York Times, in what would be a stark reversal by the president, who ended the practice two years ago.
A final decision has not been made, according to the Monday evening report in the Times, which cited officials familiar with the discussions. The family detention policy garnered widespread criticism from Democrats and migrant advocates during President Trump’s administration.
But as the Biden administration faces a growing crisis at the southern border, it is considering a pivot to more strict measures than the use of ankle bracelets and other methods of tracking migrants that it has used in the near past.
Reached for comment by The Hill, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson did not deny the Times report, but said that the administration is preparing for when it lifts the Title 42 order, which has given the federal government the ability to turn away asylum seekers.
“No decisions have been made as we prepare for the Title 42 Public Health Order to lift,” the spokesperson said. “The Administration will continue to prioritize safe, orderly, and humane processing of migrants.”
An administration official said that Biden has sought to increase both work visas and pathways for asylum, seeking to build a more humane approach to immigration.
The turn to more restrictive immigration policies by the president, including a policy unveiled last month that could significantly rollback the protections for those seeking asylum, has been met with outrage from advocates. Republicans have made the security of the southern border a rallying cry and have placed intense pressure on Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to deal with the situation more effectively.
The family detention policy was also used by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Trump, who made hardline immigration policies a cornerstone of his administration, has repeatedly ripped Biden for what he describes as opening up the southern border.
—Updated at 9:31 p.m.