Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Monday that at least four families that were separated by the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy under the Trump administration in 2017 will be reunited this upcoming week.
These families will now be allowed to reunite with their children in the U.S. while they undergo the immigration process. Two families are from Guatemala, another came from Mexico prior to being separated and one mother fled from Honduras with her children.
This marks the first time that the newly founded “Family Reunification Task Force” has had any success since it was established at the beginning of Biden’s term in January.
"This is just the beginning," Mayorkas said. We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children with their parents in the weeks and months ahead. We have a lot of work still to do. But I am proud of the progress we have made, and the reunifications that we have helped to achieve this week."
The families will be granted a "humanitarian parole" status, allowing them to remain in the U.S. for a limited amount of time, according to Michelle Brané, executive director of the Family Reunification Task Force.
"There is not a one size fits all," Mayorkas said. "This is an issue that we are looking into very carefully and working with counsel for the family. "We are all in agreement that stability and resources are needed. These families need that to heal. And we are making our terminations on an individualized basis at this point."
The administration has so far identified more than 1,000 families that remain separated, Mayorkas and Brene said. The fate of the majority of them are wrapped up in settlement negotiations as part of litigation from the ACLU started under the Trump administration.
"The one thing we did agree on is that we will continue to reunify those where we can as we move forward in those negotiations," Brané said. "So, this is the first group, and we have more that are in the process that we will be reviewing. So, we hope that in the coming weeks and months, the applications will continue until a larger formal process."