The Biden administration has determined that more than 3,900 children were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy from July 2017 through January 2021, according to a Reunification Task Force report released Tuesday — and it’s possible that number will grow as the task force reviews more cases.
The review concluded that there were 5,636 family-child separations during that time period, but that only 3,913 children fell under the task force’s scope, according to the report. Nearly 400 children have been sent back to their country of origin.
As for the other 1,723 children, these cases are under review, a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security said. While it’s expected that the majority of those children came unaccompanied to the border, the department expects some of these cases to fall under “zero tolerance” policy separations and to tack on to the 3,913 figure.
The report, an initial progress review of the administration’s task force, which President Joe Biden created in February, found that almost 1,800 children were reunified under past court orders.
For children still in the U.S. without their parents, Biden’s task force is offering their families an option to come to the United States. The task force has identified 62 individuals to be considered in the first wave of humanitarian parole requests. Twenty-nine families have been granted parole and will reunify in the coming weeks, the department said. Seven families were reunited last month through the DHS’ use of its parole authority.
DHS will continue to process additional parole requests for families “who can show a compelling humanitarian need,” a senior agency official said.
In early February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to launch the long-awaited task force to reunite separated families, one of his signature campaign promises. A report on the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and its effects was promised in 120 days after the establishment of the task force.
By Myah Ward for POLITICO
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