The Department of Homeland Security is laying the groundwork for a plan to transport recent border crossers by plane to cities around the U.S. and release them after processing, according to two DHS officials familiar with the plan.
Florida officials expressed anger on Thursday after learning that the Trump administration was planning to release hundreds of migrants in Broward and Palm Beach counties each month.
Beyond South Florida, DHS is considering other areas around the country where immigrants can be released, the two officials told NBC News. A Customs and Border Protection official, who held a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, said the agency is primarily interested in communities along the northern border and on the coast, where there is already a border patrol presence.
A DHS official said previously the agency was looking at places with the capacity to process large numbers of immigrants, but declined to give further specifics on cities or regions under consideration.
Central American migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border must be processed before they can be released. Many make a claim for asylum, seeking the right to stay in the country to avoid persecution back home.