Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said today that migrant families arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border will no longer be released into the interior of the United States. “This is a vital step in restoring the rule of law and integrity to our immigration system,” he said.

The Trump Administration has powered ahead with several restrictive border policies in recent months and seen a sharp reduction in the number of migrants arrested by Border Patrol agents, a metric used to estimate illegal crossings. The reduction appears to have paved the way for the decision not to release families into the interior. President Donald Trump said last week that his administration soon would announce an end to “catch and release.”

During a question and answer session at the event today, McAleenan said DHS would employ two strategies to deal with arriving families.

In one scenario, migrant families who arrive at the border and decline to seek asylum will be removed quickly, he said. A federal court order currently limits the time children can spend in detention with their parents to 20 days, although the Trump administration aims to lift that restriction.

In the other scenario, migrant families who seek asylum and establish a “credible fear” of returning to their home countries will be sent to Mexico under a program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, McAleenan said.

Acting Sec. McAleenan said DHS would continue to release some migrant families on humanitarian and medical grounds.

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Updated: Mon, Oct 7th 2019 @ 5:35pm EDT