A report in The Washington Post says the Trump administration is "actively considering plans that could again separate parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border," but would add options to previous approaches.
Citing anonymous sources, the report says the plans are under consideration because of the "soaring numbers of families" trying to enter the U.S. from Mexico.
One plan, the sources say, would allow the government to confine asylum-seeking families for up to 20 days and then give them two choices.
One choice would have parents remaining in government detention with their children as their cases proceed through the court system, a process that could take months or years.
The other choice would give parents the option of allowing their children to be taken to government shelters where relatives or guardians could seek custody of the children.
Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement "It is deeply disturbing that this administration continues to look for ways to cause harm to small children."
The newspaper account says the White House is not, however, planning to revisit the "chaotic forced separations" that it implemented earlier this year when at least 2,500 children were taken from their parents. That scheme sparked widespread political outrage and a court order that brought a halt to the deal.
The Washington Post sources say government officials "have proposed new rules that would allow them to withdraw from a 1997 federal court agreement that bars ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) from keeping children in custody for more than 20 days."
One roadblock, however, to the proposed focus on detaining families, The Post says, is a lack of "detention space." The newspaper says "it is unclear where the government would hold all the parents who would opt to remain with their children."