WASHINGTON (AP) — A Biden administration effort to reunite children and parents who were separated under President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy has made increasing progress as it nears the end of its first year.
The Department of Homeland Security planned Thursday to announce that 100 children, mostly from Central America, are back with their families and about 350 more reunifications are in process after it adopted measures to enhance the program.
“I would have loved to have this happen much more quickly. But we are making progress and I feel like we’re gaining momentum,” said Michelle Brané, executive director of the administration’s Family Reunification Task Force.
President Joe Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office to reunite families that were separated under the Trump administration’s widely condemned practice of forcibly separating families and children at the U.S.-Mexico border to discourage illegal immigration.
In September, the task force had reunited 50 families when the administration announced a partnership to speed up the effort with the International Organization for Migration and the creation of a web portal — Juntos.gov or Together.gov — for parents to contact the U.S. government and work through the reunification process.
About 5,500 children were forcibly removed from their parents under Trump, mostly in 2018, as his administration sought to stop an increase in people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with criminal prosecutions, even if the migrants were presenting themselves to authorities to seek asylum as permitted under the law.
Amid widespread condemnation, including from Republicans, Trump stopped the practice in June 2018 just days before a judge ordered an end to the program in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Brané said in an interview ahead of Thursday’s announcement that officials believe there are still about 1,150 children whose whereabouts have not been confirmed.
By Ben Fox for THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Read Full Article HERE