According to a report from Reuters, the Department of Homeland Security is currently considering a change in policy, one that would have enormous implications for families of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. pending legal appeals or asylum requests. And make no mistake, it's both startling and hugely controversial: the potential immigration policy would separate mothers and their children throughout the process of contesting deportation or requesting asylum, effectively ripping families apart throughout a process that could take longer than a year.
Specifically, the report alleges that the DHS is considering allowing undocumented parents to be taken into government custody pending asylum requests, which would force many of their children into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services for the duration, separated from their parent. And if that sounds like a dystopian and discouraging idea to you, that may be part of the idea. In a statement to Reuters, the DHS characterized the proposal as intended to discourage undocumented immigrants from even attempting to make the trek across the border, citing the considerable physical dangers of doing do.
The exclusive Reuters report came right on the heels of an MSNBC report on the same subject, which alleged that the DHS is planning to "radically expand" facilities for housing detained immigrant families while they seek asylum.
Taken in full, these reports would seem to indicate a major crackdown on the ability of asylum-seekers (or undocumented immigrants legally contesting deportation) to live within the U.S. pending the legal process. Trump himself has long insisted he wants to take a less accommodating stances towards such immigrants ― he's repeatedly called for an end to what many right-wingers derisively call "catch-and-release" detention policies, insisting that it incentives illegal immigration.
Regardless of what explanations the DHS and/or the Trump administration give, however, the visceral awfulness of the basic thought of breaking up a family this way is sure to be inflammatory and controversial. One need only imagine a child with no contact with their parent throughout such a formative and likely traumatic experience to understand why these reports have progressives and immigrant rights advocates on high-alert.
Of course, there's no telling just yet whether the policy will actually be implemented, now that it's been thrust under the cold light of day. But as it stands now, this could end up being a prime motivator of yet more activism and progressive zeal over the weeks and months to come ― the Trump administration's agenda has already fueled massive nationwide protests.