“The first families that meet this week are mothers, they are sons, they are daughters, they are children who were 3 years old at the time of separation. These are teenagers who had to live without their parents during their most formative years, ”Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters on Sunday.
Although Mayorkas declined to provide specific details about the families to protect their privacy, he described two cases – a mother from Honduras who was separated from her children at the end of 2017 and another mother from Mexico who was separated from her son at the end of 2017. Both mothers will be reunited with their children within the next two days.
Families will be granted humanitarian parole to enter the United States and reunite with their children who are in the country, according to Michelle Brané, executive director of the Family Reunification Task Force.
The task force engaged with groups that are in contact with the families and carefully plan their return, taking into account past trauma, Garcia said, noting that some parents are nervous to meet with Customs and Protection again. US borders since their last meeting with agents. in their children being taken away from them.
The families are among thousands who have been separated under the Trump administration’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy, which has resulted in the separation of at least 2,800 children from their parents, government data shows . Officials later discovered that more than 1,000 children were separated from their families before Trump’s policy took effect in 2018.
Brané said the task force has identified more than a thousand families who remain separated or who are believed to be still separated.
Lawyers in an ongoing family separation case, meanwhile, are still trying to reach the parents of 445 migrant children torn from their families at the US-Mexico border between 2017 and 2018.
“We are delighted that these mothers will finally see their children after years, but the (American Civil Liberties Union) is certainly not ready to celebrate at this time given the thousands in need of help,” said the ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, lead counsel in the pending family separation case.
“We are pushing for permanent legal status, compensation and social services. It is the least that these families deserve given that our government has deliberately abused them, ”he added.
Mayorkas praised the work of the task force, which sifted through thousands of records and fixed issues in existing files.
As part of this effort, DHS is establishing a process for accepting parole applications, the Department of Health and Human Services is working to facilitate family support services, and the Department of State is developing a streamlined system for processing in-country travel document requests. The Department of Justice is also involved in related settlement negotiation efforts.
“Since the signing of the decree, the working group has been working to identify parents and children separated by the previous administration, establish a system to reunite them safely and ensure that they receive a support after the traumatic experience they went through, ”Mayorkas said.
Immigrant advocates, who have struggled for years to find and connect families, have urged the Biden administration to focus on repairing the damage caused by the previous administration. Advocacy groups also called for accountability and transparency to take fully into account the> policy and its ramifications, as well as taking into account the contribution of parents separated from their children in order to restore trust with families damaged by the old administration.