“The administration wants the ability to return whole Central American families, and also minors, after apprehension,” one senior administration official said during a background briefing with reporters. Doing so, the official added, would send a strong deterrence message that would dissuade others from attempting a costly and dangerous journey.
“If we could do that, there is no border crisis,” the official said.
But humanitarian groups disputed that strategy. In 2000, roughly 95 percent of the immigrants apprehended at the border were from Mexico, most of them single men seeking employment, according to DHS officials. Last month, nearly 50 percent of the immigrants taken into custody were from Central America, most of them families with children, the officials said.