U.S. could cover travel, healthcare for migrant families separated under Trump


The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden outlined guidance for its family reunification task force as it seeks to reunite migrant children and parents separated by Trump’s border policy.

The United States could help pay for transportation, healthcare, legal services, and career and educational programs for migrant families separated under former President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” border strategy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Monday.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden outlined guidance for its family reunification task force as it seeks to reunite migrant children and parents separated by Trump’s border policy. The costs could also be covered by non-profit organizations and the private sector, but not the migrant families, DHS said in a press statement.

Thousands of children were separated from their parents at the border under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which charged parents with federal immigration offences and sent them to jails while children were labeled “unaccompanied” and placed in shelters. But advocates say border officials separated families both before and after that policy was in place.

Some families have already been reunited as part of litigation challenging the separations, while other families remain apart, including some where parents were deported. Efforts are still ongoing in court to locate the parents of more than 500 separated children.

The Biden administration has said it will consider bringing deported parents back to the United States, an option outlined in a Feb. 2 executive order, which created the family reunification task force.

Michelle Brane, who most recently worked as a senior director with the New York City-based Women’s Refugee Commission, will be the executive director of task force.

The numbers of children and families arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border have risen in recent months and Biden, who took office on Jan. 20, has faced criticism from Trump and other Republicans for rolling back hardline border policies.

Biden moved to quickly rescind several of Trump’s restrictive immigration policies, including a COVID-era policy to rapidly expel unaccompanied minors caught at the U.S.-Mexico border. Last week, the administration said it opened a temporary shelter for minors in Texas that was used during the Trump presidency and is taking steps to speed up releases of the children to sponsors.

At a press briefing at the White House on Monday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas argued the United States is not experiencing a crisis at the border, instead calling the situation “a challenge … that we are managing.”

Later on Monday, he will join Biden in a virtual summit with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that is expected to touch on immigration issues.

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