In what hopefully is just the start of a larger trend, a small number of migrant families that were separated at the border by the Trump administration will be allowed to reunify in the United States this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Monday. The four families will be the first to be reunified through a task force that was created by President Biden shortly after taking office in January. The decision to allow migrant parents into the U.S. to reunify with their children here is a big contrast with the Trump administration, which refused to allow parents who were previously deported to return. DHS is now trying to bring families back together. The families came from Honduras and Mexico, and some had been separated since 2017, months before the Trump administration formally announced its “zero tolerance” policy that led to thousands of families getting separated.
Immigrant advocates were happy about the announcement but expressed frustration at the slow pace of reunification. The announcement on family reunification comes as the Biden administration faces mounting criticism about its handling of the southern border — from both sides of the political spectrum. Hard-liners blame the administration for encouraging a surge of unauthorized migration at the border by relaxing some of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Immigrant advocates say the Biden administration continues to send asylum-seekers back to danger in Mexico under an order put in place by his predecessor more than a year ago. The executive director of the family reunification task force said the parents would be given temporary permission to enter the U.S. through a process known as humanitarian parole.More then 1,000 families have yet to be reunited, although incomplete record-keeping by the Trump administration has made it difficult to give a precise number.