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Migrants wave at border crossing in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico. Photo: Guillermo/ARIAS, AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security will announce a new policy on Monday that directs agents to refer anyone caught crossing the border illegally to the Justice Department for prosecution, the L.A. Times first reported and Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The move is directly aligned with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' new "zero-tolerance policy," and could lead to parents being separated from their children if caught crossing the border illegally — a sharp departure from current immigration procedure.

Details: DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed the policy on Friday.

  • It does not apply to families who enter at or between ports of entry and claim asylum.
  • If parents are arrested and sent to federal court, the children will be treated as unaccompanied minors and placed in the custody of Health and Human Services.

Big picture: This comes as the number of border crossings continues to spike, showing a dramatic uptick from last year, but following historic seasonal trends. It also follows the arrival of the "caravan" of Central Americans, who traveled to the southern border with the intention of crossing illegally or claiming asylum.

  • Since Congress' immigration reform failed earlier this year, DHS, the DOJ, and the White House have been using everything within their power to crack down on illegal immigration.

Go deeper

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
3 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

3 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.