The United States will begin reuniting migrant children with their parents this week after their separation by the administration of former President Donald Trump, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Monday.
Mayorkas tweeted that four mothers who had fled “extremely dangerous situations in their home countries” would be reunited with children as young as three.
“We are happy that the reunification process begins this week and that these four mothers are embracing their children after so many years,” he wrote.
He added in a statement released by his department that the move was “just the beginning.”
“We are bringing together the first group of families, many more will follow, and we recognize the importance of providing these families with the stability and resources they need to heal. “
President Joe Biden has prioritized a special task force to reunite hundreds of families as part of his radical reversal of Trump’s sweeping policies, which were aimed at deterring migration from Central America.
Biden called the family separations a “moral failure and a national disgrace.”
Trump announced his zero tolerance policy for undocumented migrants in 2018, saying they would be arrested and charged with a crime.
Under the new regime, children were separated from their parents, on the promise that families would be reunited within weeks. But this has not happened in thousands of cases.
Public outcry and lawsuits forced the Trump administration to end the separations, but for as many as 5,000 children the damage was done.
Trump’s immigration officials kept bad records and did little to cooperate with groups seeking to help children, which forced more lawsuits.
It was not clear how many children were still separated from their parents when the Biden administration took over, but estimates put it at 1,000.
Many of them are from rural and inaccessible mountain communities, reunification made even more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic and two hurricanes that ravaged Central America last fall.
The task force created by Biden has “worked tirelessly to establish a comprehensive database of separated families, correct any inaccuracies in the files provided to them, and put in place the processes to find each family and give them the opportunity to come together and heal, ”the homeland security statement said.
He did not say whether the children will be allowed to stay legally in the United States with their parents.
© 2021 AFP