President Donald Trump has called for ending so-called “catch and release,” in which migrants who cross illegally are freed to live in the United States while awaiting legal proceedings.
Two of the officials were briefed on the proposal at a Feb. 2 townhall for asylum officers by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum chief John Lafferty.
A third DHS official said the department is actively considering separating women from their children but has not made a decision.
DHS, HHS and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.
About 54,000 children and their guardians were apprehended between Oct. 1, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2017, more than double the number caught over the same time period a year earlier.
Republicans in Congress have argued women are willing to risk the dangerous journey with their children because they are assured they will be quickly released from detention and given court dates set years into the future.
Immigrant rights advocates have argued that Central America’s violent and impoverished conditions force mothers to immigrate to the United States and that they should be given asylum status.