WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Parents who cross illegally from Mexico to the United States with their children will not face prosecution for the time being despite President Donald Trump’s vow to continue a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, the top U.S. border-security official told news outlets on Monday.
Kevin McAleenan, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said border agents will not hand over parents to criminal authorities until the U.S. government can figure out how to prosecute them without separating them from their children, the New York Times and the Associated Press reported.
That could mark a return of the “catch and release” policy that Trump has opposed because the government does not have enough space in existing detention facilities, the New York Times reported. Families would be told to return to face a judge some time in the future.
Trump faced a global outcry this month over migrant children who were separated from their parents after his administration announced in April that it would detain and prosecute everyone caught entering the country illegally.
Trump ended the family-separation policy last Wednesday, but the government has yet to reunite more than 2,000 children with their parents.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman