WASHINGTON: US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has asked Congress to change the laws to allow for faster deportation of migrant children from Central America, as well as the ability to detain families while they await their day in court.
In a letter to lawmakers on Thursday, Nielsen said her most immediate request is for the authority to return Central American unaccompanied children to their home countries if they "have no legal right to stay", similar to the way the department repatriates Mexican children, CNN reported.
According to Nielsen, the inability to deport these children has resulted in hundreds of Central American children entering the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody each day and ultimately being placed with sponsors in the US.
Nielsen also said she will propose measures to allow DHS to keep migrant families in custody throughout their immigration proceedings, as well as a plan for Central Americans to apply for asylum in their home countries.
The administration has repeatedly called on Congress to make some of these changes to US law. She wrote that the department needs these changes because it is "increasingly unable" to uphold its responsibility to control the situation at the southern border.
The letter comes a day after the Secretary signed a regional agreement with the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to try to address illegal immigration, combat criminal organisations and ultimately help with US border security.