The United States is considering separating immigrant children from their parents in a bid to deter illegal migration, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Monday.
Kelly, in an interview with CNN, was asked whether DHS was weighing an initiative that would split children from their parents if they were caught trying to enter the US illegally.
"I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America to getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up through Mexico into the United States," Kelly said.
"We have tremendous experience in dealing with unaccompanied minors," he said.
He noted the DHS turns them over to the Health and Human Services department, which puts the children in foster care or links them with parents or family members in the United States.
"Yes, I am considering, in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network, I am considering exactly that. They will be well-cared for as we deal with their parents."
President Donald Trump ran on a platform arguing that mass immigration by unskilled workers costs US taxpayers billions of dollars and depresses wages and job opportunities.
He vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border to keep out migrants he branded drug-dealers, murderers and rapists.
Federal agents in recent weeks have launched sweeps across the country to round up undocumented immigrants.
Kelly spoke after Trump earlier in the day signed a revised ban on refugees and on travelers from six Muslim-majority nations.
With his first executive order rejected by federal courts, the new, scaled-back order freezes refugee admissions for 120 days and halts new visas for Syrians, Iranians, Libyans, Somalis, Yemenis and Sudanese citizens for 90 days.
The order takes effect March 16.