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Alejandro Mayorkas

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that 400 migrant families who were separated under the administration of former President Donald Trump have been reunited.

The administration has estimated that over 1,000 families remain separated out of the 5,000 families that were broken apart by former President Donald Trump's so-called "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

The department's Family Reunification Task Force, which President Joe Biden created by executive order in February 2021, is working to reverse the Trump administration's harmful policy that separated parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border. As a result of the policy, many migrant families have been separated for years with little to no contact.

"Our Task Force now has reunited 400 families separated by the last administration's cruel policies. We will continue this important work, together with nonprofit organizations and our foreign partners," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.

Michelle Brané, executive director of the task force, told NBC News that parents will be able to come to the United States on paid travel and will be allowed to work in the country legally for three years as part of the process.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director for the pro-immigration American Immigration Council, sounded a positive note on the development.

"With little fanfare and an enormous amount of tireless on-the-ground work in multiple countries, advocates and the Biden admin's Family Reunification Task Force are helping to reunite families separated under Trump," Reichlin-Melnick wrote. "But even with all of that, many families remain separate."

The task force has said it will partner with non-governmental organizations and the private sector to provide support services to the families. The task force also said services like health care, legal services, and career help would be offered to those who have been affected.

Immigration advocates have continued to call for the Biden administration and other elected leaders to work to reunite more families as soon as possible. On Monday, a coalition of over 450 faith leaders and organizations signed a letter to Congress calling for more to be done to support families dealing with the fallout of the Trump policy.

The Trump administration's immigration policy mandated the separation of migrant families from their children. When it was implemented in 2018, advocacy groups like Refugee International described it as "fundamentally cruel." International allies including the United Nations, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as faith leaders including Pope Francis, have all condemned the Trump-era policy.

The policy was devised by senior Trump administration advisor Stephen Miller as part of a ruthless effort to limit immigration to the United States. Miller has a long history of advocating for policy goals affiliated with the white supremacist movement, including attacks on immigration. Miller is a descendant of Jewish refugess.

The U.S. Department of Justice rescinded Trump's border policy in the first week of Biden's administration.

During the final debate of the 2020 presidential election, Biden condemned Trump's family separation policy as "criminal."

At the same debate, Trump claimed the separated families were "so well taken care of."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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