The administration is weighing whether to start a pilot program to see how it would work and how parents would proceed with their decisions, a senior Department of Homeland Security official told CNN Monday.
Known as "binary choice," the proposal drew widespread attention -- and sharp condemnation from advocacy groups -- when it was reported by The Washington Post
on Friday. But it isn't a new idea. It came up in court filings back in July.
There are still more questions than answers about this latest policy push. Here's what we know so far:
A pilot program is under consideration, but it hasn't started yet
Specific details like location and length of a pilot program are still being discussed internally, the senior DHS official said. It has not started yet. If implemented, a "binary choice" policy would be new.
The reasoning for this proposal, officials have said, is twofold:
1) Immigrant children can only be detained for 20 days under a 1997 court settlement, but officials don't want that to limit how long they can hold families.
2) Officials are trying to deter increasing numbers of families
crossing the border.
But "binary choice" isn't the only thing officials are doing to deter undocumented migrants from traveling to the US.
Officials have also been placing advertising in Central America to warn would-be migrants of the dangers of the journey. Mexico has also been cooperating "to a degree," the senior DHS official said, by stopping people trying to enter Mexico from Guatemala.
White House adviser Stephen Miller has been pushing internally for the "binary choice" option to be implemented, but officials haven't decided yet if they're going that route, a senior administration official told CNN's Liz Landers on Friday.
Trump wouldn't give a straight answer when asked whether his administration plans to separate families again.
Is the administration on the verge of renewing its efforts to separate families? The issue came up in Trump's "60 Minutes" interview
Sunday, and his comments were anything but clear.
"When you allow the parents to stay together, OK, when you allow that, then what happens is people are gonna pour into our country," Trump said.
"So are you gonna go back to that?" Stahl asked.
The administration is "looking at a lot of things," Trump replied.
Stahl pressed the President to give a "yes or no" answer on whether the administration plans to return to separating migrant families.
"I will only -- I can't -- you can't say yes or no," Trump said. "What I can say is this: There are consequences from coming into a country, namely our country, illegally."
Officials have been talking about doing this for months. And a judge signed off in August.
We got our first hint this could be in the offing back in July, when government attorneys filed paperwork indicating as much in federal court
A 1997 federal court settlement bars ICE from keeping minors in custody for more than 20 days. The Trump administration has been trying to get around this on multiple fronts, including efforts to write a new federal regulation
to nullify it.