SAN DIEGO – The Joe Biden administration said Monday that four families who were separated at the Mexican border during Donald Trump’s presidency will meet in the United States this week in what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calls “only the beginning ”of a broader effort.
Two of the four families include mothers who were separated from their children in late 2017, one from Honduras and the other from Mexico, said Mayorkas, who declined to detail their identities.
He only said that they were children who were 3 years old at the time and “adolescents who have had to live without their parents during their most formative years.”
IT IS THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING ” WIDER, ” SAID ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS
The parents will return to the United States on humanitarian probation while authorities consider other forms of longer-term legal status, said Michelle Brane, executive director of the government’s Family Reunification Group. The children are already in the United States.
“We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children with their parents in the coming weeks and months,” Mayorkas told reporters ahead of the announcement.
More than 5,000 children were separated from their parents during the Trump administration since July 1, 2017, many of them under a “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute any adult who entered the country illegally.
This unusual practice of releasing families without legal documents began last week.
The “zero tolerance” policy ended in June 2018 by court order and Brane believes more than 1,000 families remain separated.
The reunifications begin as the Biden administration faces the third major increase in seven years in children arriving alone at the border.
Much progress has been made in moving children from crowded Border Patrol facilities to Department of Health shelters, which are better suited for longer stays until the children are placed with guardians in the United States, usually parents or close relatives.