The new top U.S. immigration official signaled that his agency is looking to step up deportations of families who are in the U.S. illegally, actions that would likely run into logistical hurdles and face strong public opposition, the Associated Press reports. Mark Morgan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency would continue to prioritize deportations of people who have criminal histories. “That will include families,” he said at a roundtable with ICE officials and reporters. Morgan’s comments show a willingness to embrace a part of President Trump’s tough immigration agenda past officials had resisted.
Morgan is a former head of Border Patrol who was fired by Trump early in his presidency, but returned to his good graces after regularly defending Trump’s immigration policies on Fox News. More than 200,000 migrant families have been released into the U.S. since Dec. 1. A massive backlog of immigration cases means they will be in the country for years before their cases are decided. There is little room to detain families while they wait for travel papers to be deported. Federal family detention centers can house up to about 2,500 people, but are already full.