Trump says separating families may deter illegal entries to US

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Mr Trump speaking to reporters before boarding Marine One at the White House. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump said that if migrant families fear they will be separated by the United States government, it may deter them from illegally crossing the border from Mexico, suggesting he is reconsidering a policy abandoned in July after widespread public condemnation.

"We have people trying to come in like never before," Mr Trump told reporters as he departed the White House on Saturday (Oct 13) for a campaign rally in Kentucky.

"If they feel there will be separation, then they won't come."

Mr Trump added that he wanted "a lot of people to come in", but they have to do so legally.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that the White House was reconsidering a policy known as "zero tolerance" that caused nearly 3,000 children to be taken from their caregivers and placed in federal custody after they were apprehended crossing the border earlier this year.

Members of Congress of both parties criticised the policy, and the plight of the children - held in detention centres run by government contractors for weeks or months apart from their parents or guardians - caused broad outrage among the American public.

Mr Trump issued an order in July to end the practice.

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