"There is a reason that we give people work permits while they are waiting for a refugee, so they can support themselves and do not have to be dependent on government assistance in that time," said Michelle Brané, Migrant Director Rights and Justice at the Women's Refugee Commission.
Fewer migrants try to cross the border now than in the early 2000s. But the demographics have shifted: Most are now families from Central America rather than single Mexicans who could be deported quickly. The sheer number of families has overwhelmed the system, and because of rules that prohibit holding children in detention for more than 20 days, some families are released into communities along the border.
In 2016, the average daily immigrant population In detention dipped to 34,376.
After the memo's release on Monday night, Julián Castro, a Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 and former Obama administration's housing secretary, called the orders "really sickening."
"Families are fleeing violence and turmoil Donald Trump wants to pay a fee for asylum, " he said on Twitter .
This month, the White House took action over the rising number of border crossings when Mr. Trump forced out Ms. Nielsen, who oversaw attempts to tighten the asylum process and the administration's family separation practice.
Stephen Miller, the president's top immigration adviser, has assumed more power over shaping policies and decisions. He was behind the purge of homeland security officials and has advocated an aggressive, legally doubtful policy, including busing migrants to so-called sanctuary cities to retaliate against the Democrats.