As of Monday, the Biden administration announced its first steps in reuniting illegal immigrant families who were separated at the southern border under Trump administration immigration policy.
According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, four families that arrived at the Mexican border will be reunited this week, two of the families include a Mexican and a Honduran mother who were separated from their children. Mayorkas stated that this is “just the beginning” of the Biden administration’s reunification plan. Executive director of the administration’s Family Reunification Task, Michelle Brane, confirmed that the children are already in the states and their parents will arrive on humanitarian parole. Authorities have yet to decide the long term legal-status of the families.
The reunification plan arrives in an effort to settle a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego. Lee Gelernt, an attorney working on the ACLU’s case said, “We need the Biden administration to provide relief to all of them, including providing them a permanent pathway to citizenship and care.” Gelernt regarded the four families who will be reunited this week as “just the tip of the iceberg.” During the Trump administration, a zero-tolerance policy was utilized to criminally prosecute any adult illegally entering the US. According to court filings, more than 5,500 children were separated from their parents. An investigation conducted by the Biden administration suggests there are still 1,000 families who have yet to be reunited.
Mayorkas told reporters, “We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children with their parents in the weeks and months ahead. We have a lot of work still to do, but I am proud of the progress we have made and the reunifications that we have helped to achieve.” The current crisis at the southern border presents a continued challenge to locate the families of unaccompanied children. The Biden administration is not turning away adults or children after reversing several Trump-era border policies.
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ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE WASHINGTON POST