This Border Policy Option Is Being Called 'Separation 2.0'

The government is reportedly weighing a new border policy that some are already calling "separation 2.0." We explore whether the label is a stretch.

This Border Policy Option Is Being Called 'Separation 2.0'
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"The desperation of children separated from their parents"

"Protesters taking to the street horrified that immigration officials are ripping families apart"

You're probably not hearing these phrases as often as you did this summer, when the government's separation practice led to a massive outcry. Because of that backlash, President Donald Trump ended the six-week-long policy in June. And thanks to an ongoing lawsuit, most of the separated families have now been reunited.

But as migrant families continue to make the journey to the U.S. in record numbers, the Trump administration is reportedly weighing a new border pilot program that some in the press are already calling "separation 2.0."

The policy, which is still under consideration, is quite different from the forced separations the government carried out over the summer. It's known as the "binary choice" approach because asylum-seeking families would be given two options: remain detained together during the entire duration of their immigration case, or allow children to be released after 20 days while parents stay behind bars. 

Critics are calling the choice faced by migrant parents "impossible." Human Rights First equated the dilemma with "forcing families to choose between indefinite incarceration and family separation."

But government officials see the soaring number of family crossings as sign of an increase in fraudulent asylum claims. They believe that releasing apprehended families pending their court hearing would only make the problem worse. 

A government spokesperson told CBS News that the so-called "catch and release" practice would "incentivize illegal border-crossers to take this dangerous journey because they are unlikely to face consequences for their illegal conduct and in fact will almost certainly be released." 

Besides, the Trump administration believes the "binary choice" policy is legally sound, according to the Washington Post. That's because the same federal judge who ordered the reunification of separated families approved a similar proposal in one of his rulings back in August.

The White House is also tackling the border crossings issue from a different front. It's proposed rules to get rid of an old court ruling restricting how long it can keep minors in immigration detention to 20 days. Lifting that restriction would allow the government to keep families detained together indefinitely. Legal experts say that proposed change will likely face serious challenges in court.