Four families separated during Donald Trump’s administration will be reunited this week, officials said.
The administration of US President Joe Biden said four families who were separate to the Mexican border during Donald Trump’s presidency will be reunited this week.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called Monday’s announcement “just the start” of a broader administration effort to reunite members of separated families in the United States.
Two of the four families include mothers who were separated from their children at the end of 2017, one Honduran and another Mexican, said Mayorkas, refusing to detail their identities.
He described them as three-year-olds at the time and “teenagers who had to live without their parents during their most formative years.”
We have spent years fighting the separation of families from the streets for the courts.
The Biden administration must reunite all the remaining families and ensure that this does not happen again. https://t.co/dMcpZYkS7Q
– the ACLU (@ACLU) May 3, 2021
The parents will return to the United States on humanitarian parole while authorities consider other forms of longer-term legal status, said Michelle Brane, executive director of the administration’s family reunification task force. The children are already in the United States.
Exactly how many families will be reuniting in the United States and in what order relates to negotiations with the American Civil Liberties Union to settle a federal lawsuit in San Diego, but Mayorkas said there are more to come. .
“We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children with their parents in the weeks and months to come,” Mayorkas told reporters ahead of the announcement.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and the reunifications we’ve helped achieve this week.
The ACLU, in a tweet, called on the Biden administration to reunite “every last family and make sure it can never happen again.”
Zero tolerance policy
More than 5,000 children have been separated from their parents during the Trump administration since July 1, 2017, many of them under a “zero tolerance” policy aimed at criminalizing any adult who entered the country undocumented, according to documents filed by the court.
The Biden administration has been doing its own tally since Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 and, according to Brane, estimates that more than 1,000 families remain separated.
As the “zero tolerance” family separation ended in June 2018 by court ruling and shortly after Trump reversed course, Biden repeatedly assaulted the practice as an act of cruelty.
A report by the Inspector General of the Ministry of Justice published in January, detailed how the Trump administration’s poor planning and coordination in rolling out the policy further worsened the toll on families while making future reunification more difficult.
A decree signed by Biden on the first day of his tenure promised to reunite families who were still separated “to the greatest extent possible.”
Reunifications begin as Biden administration confronts the third big increase in unaccompanied children arriving at the border in seven years.
He has made progress in moving children from extremely overcrowded border patrol facilities to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shelters, which are more suitable for longer stays until the children are placed at home. sponsors in the United States, usually relatives or close relatives.
The average stay of an unaccompanied child in border patrol custody has dropped to around 20 hours, below the legal limit of 72 hours and down from 133 hours at the end of March, Mayorkas said.
There are currently 677 unaccompanied children in border patrol custody, up from more than 5,700 at the end of March.
Health and social services opened 14 emergency reception centers, bringing the capacity to nearly 20,000 beds from 952 when the Federal Emergency Management Agency was dispatched on March 13, Mayorkas said.
About 400 asylum officers from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services have been assigned as case managers to expedite the delivery of children to sponsors.
As of Thursday, Health and Social Services had 22,557 children in its care.