The task force will work under the Department of Homeland Security to find immigrant parents separated from their children
During his campaign, President Biden promised to work to reunite the separated immigrant families that were torn apart during the Trump administration. Now, just a few weeks into his presidency, Biden is set to sign a series of executive orders today that will begin the reunification process.
The creation of a task force, which will operate under the Department of Homeland Security secretary, will focus on identifying and reuniting immigrant families who were separated at the US-Mexico border under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy.” The Biden administration also plans to take additional steps to restore the asylum system and a thorough review of the Trump administration’s changes to the legal immigration system.
On an official call regarding the new immigration measures, Biden staff officials told reporters these changes can’t happen overnight, but they’re working hard to implement them regardless.
“It takes time to review everything, so we are starting with these right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of it,” one of the officials said, per NPR.
Last week, it was announced that the task force will receive guidance and input from Dr. Jill Biden herself. A White House official said Biden has felt very strongly about immigration issues, especially since taking a trip to a refugee camp across the border in December.
“It’s not who we are as Americans,” she said after leaving the camp. “We are a welcoming nation, but that’s not the message that we’re sending at the border. We’re saying, ‘Stop. Don’t come in.’”
The task force will be charged with identifying all children separated from their parents or legal guardians on the southern border, facilitating and enabling the reunification of children with their families, and providing regular reports to President Biden.
The results of the 2017 “zero-tolerance policy” that initially led to the separation of thousands of immigrant families are still keenly felt even now. Immigration lawyers are still unable to reach the parents of 611 children who were separated from their families by US border officials between 2017-2018.
“The Biden administration is committed to remedying this awful harm the Trump administration inflicted on families,” a senior administration official told CNN, calling the policy a “moral failure” and “national shame.”
“President Trump was so focused on the wall that he did nothing to address the root cause of why people are coming to our southern border. It was a limited, wasteful and naive strategy, and it failed,” the official said. “President Biden’s approach is to deal with immigration comprehensively, fairly, and humanely.”
“The goal of the task force is one to identify, but two to make recommendations as to how the families can be united, taking into account the menu of options that exist under immigration law,” they said.