Donald Trump bringing back family separations at border - report

Honduran migrants in Mapastepec, Mexico, en route to the USA, 25 October 2018.
Honduran migrants in Mapastepec, Mexico, en route to the USA, 25 October 2018. Photo credit: AAP

US President Donald Trump denies he is returning to a policy of separating children from family members who illegally crossed the border.

"We're not looking to do that now," the President said when asked to respond to reports the White House was planning to separate families again.

"But it brings a lot more people to the border when you don't do it."

Outgoing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Kirstjen Nielsen oversaw the 'zero tolerance' prosecution policy that led to the separations, which garnered legal challenges and a public outcry that eventually led to the policy's reversal.

But despite Trump's denials, The Washington Post reports that his administration is considering bringing back the controversial family separation policy under a new name.

Citing un-named Trump officials, The Post reports that the new 'binary choice' doctrine would force parents to choose whether to remain detained as a family or split up to keep the children out of custody.

The administration is struggling to deal with increasing numbers of illegal migrants at the US-Mexico border, with US Customs and Border Protection taking more than 103,000 migrants into custody in March - the highest one-month total in more than a decade.

Trump's administration also stepped up pressure on the DHS on Tuesday, raising the likelihood that he might fire more senior officials, following the departure of Nielsen.

The President denied that he was overhauling the DHS and said his administration was fighting "bad laws" on immigration and a court system that "never ever rules for us" - a frequent refrain of his as a succession of policies to curb entry to the United States has been met with legal challenges by civil rights advocates.


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