Biden to create task force to reunite families separated at border, sign order to review asylum program
President Joe Biden will continue to review and roll back several of the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies Tuesday, including introducing a task force to reunify families and signing an executive order that reviews the “Migrant Protection Protocols.”
The task force, which will be led by the secretary of Homeland Security, will work to identify the children and parents or guardians who were separated at the border, facilitate and enable reunification of children with their families, and then provide a report to the president on recommendations to ensure that the federal government does not have policies in place that separate families, senior administration officials said.
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There are still at least 628 parents who were separated from their children at the border that are still missing as of December. Former President Donald Trump’s administration had a “zero tolerance” policy that separated children and their parents or guardians at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The task force, which will be comprised of government officials such the secretaries of State and Health and Human Services, will also consult and have input from individuals impacted by the policies.
“The biggest challenge faced by the task force is continuing to identify the children and families that continue to be separated and then making recommendations to finally unite them,” senior officials said.
Biden will also sign an executive order that will review the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” or MPP.
The program forced migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexican border cities while waiting to plead their case before a judge. While Biden’s administration previously halted the program, part of the review from the executive order will be to determine a process for those with active cases to pursue their cases and not “simply languish in Mexico while they await a decision or the opportunity to make their case,” senior administration officials said.
The executive orders were previously scheduled to be introduced and signed last Friday. However, the delay in confirming Ali Mayorkas as secretary of Homeland Security caused the executive orders to be pushed back. Mayorkas, who is set to be confirmed Tuesday afternoon, will chair the task force.
Biden’s executive orders will also create a framework to address the underlying causes of migration to the United States’ southern border from mostly Central American countries, like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and work with foreign governments as well as international organizations to create opportunities to process migrants seeking asylum in that region.
In addition, Biden will sign an executive order that reestablishes an Obama-era task force called the Task Force on New Americans to help integrate immigrants into American communities. The order will also call on government agencies to conduct a review of regulations and policies that “set up barriers to our legal immigration system,” according to the White House.
These are the latest executive orders Biden has signed in his first several weeks in office.
Biden during his first days in office reversed Trump’s travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries and stopped construction on the border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He has also sent an immigration bill to Congress that outlines an eight-year pathway to citizenship for migrants living in the United States without legal status.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_