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U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is expected to ask Congress in the coming days for permission to deport unaccompanied migrant children and hold families seeking asylum in detention longer than currently permitted, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by NBC News.

The backdrop: Under the law presently, children who enter the U.S. from non-border states are reassigned into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services to be rejoined with relatives or sponsors. Also under federal law, immigrant families with minors cannot be detained for more than 20 days, despite the Trump administration's previously failed attempts to reverse this by executive action.

Details: Nielsen, in the letter, agues that the law as it stands restricts DHS's ability to deport migrant children, serving as "another dangerous 'pull' factor," as she seeks to address the "root causes of the emergency" that led to the rise in border crossings since February. Her proposal also requests more funding for detention beds, extends the duration for which families can be held, and would allow immigrants to apply for asylum from their home countries.

What's next: If the proposal emerges, it will have to clear the Democratic-majority House, where it will likely face opposition. According to NBC, daily border crossings have recently reached a 13-year high, resulting in immigration officers premature release of immigrants from their custody.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"