Kelly was also pressed on separating mothers from their children at the border, but said that they would only be separated "if the child's life is in danger" or if the mother is an addict.
Kelly said border agents could separate parents and children if, for instance, the mother is addicted to drugs and if the life of the child is in jeopardy.
The Trump administration is no longer considering separating women and children at the southern US border as a means of deterring their migration, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said on Wednesday. But he said separation would not be routine.
Gen. Jack Kelly, the Homeland Security Secretary, testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
As the Tuesday deadline for bids has already passed, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has declined to divulge the number of bidders as well as their identities in accordance with the standard practice of government contracting.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Wednesday that the first immigration orders signed by President Donald Trump have served to dissuade undocumented migrants from entering the US illegally, and he called for the construction of a "barrier" along the US-Mexican border, albeit admitting that it will not be a wall that runs from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. Specific details will accompany the release of the complete budget in mid-May, he said, adding: "I plan to use these funds to make sizable investments in: new border barriers; replacing substandard existing fence; constructing or improving hundreds of miles of border roads; and border security technology and equipment in the highest risk areas of operation".
He queried Kelly on his level of concern, noting that while Americans are "focused like a laser on the southern border", the northern border also has its challenges.
"It's unlikely that we will build a wall or physical barrier from sea to shining sea, but it is very likely ― I'm committed to putting it where the men and women say we should put it", Kelly said.
Malaysians' emotional return from Pyongyang in Kim body swap
They have insisted that the man was a North Korean, Kim Chol , the name stated in the passport Jong Nam used to enter Malaysia. Thursday's political deal also secured the release of ordinary citizens who had been caught up in the diplomatic fight.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., asked Kelly whether he would put the policy in writing, but he responded saying a "verbal directive" is enough.
'There will be a lot of different activity - protests, prayer vigils - on both sides of the wall, ' said Morones, whose immigrant advocacy group is based in San Diego.
In written testimony submitted to the committee, Kelly credited the president for a declining number of arrests of people caught trying to illegally cross the border.
Kelly says a wall in the right places, will do that job.
The prospects for that wall and billions of dollars to pay for it appear dim this year, Sen. Claire McCaskill said Wednesday.
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