US President Joe Biden has signed three executive actions Tuesday, 2 February, seeking to reunite migrant families split up by a Trump-era policy and ordering a review of his predecessor’s wider immigration agenda.
In an attempt to deter illegal immigration, President Donald Trump’s administration separated undocumented adults from children as they crossed the US-Mexico border.
Biden signed orders on family separation, border security, and legal immigration. This brings to nine the number of executive actions signed on immigration during his first two weeks in office.
“I’m not making new law, I’m eliminating bad policy, Biden said at the white house, flanked by vice president Kamala Harris and newly confirmed homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“This is about how America’s safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly, and humane legal immigration system, Biden said.
“We’re going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally not figuratively ripped children from the arms of their families, their mothers and fathers, at the border and with no plan, none whatsoever, to reunify the children who are still in custody and their parents.
Alejandro Mayorkas, whose nomination as homeland security secretary was confirmed Tuesday by the senate, will lead a task force on family separation, focused largely on reuniting parents and children who remain apart.
It is unclear exactly how many, but about 5,500 children have been identified in court documents in the southern district of California as having been separated during Trump’s presidency, including about 600 whose parents have yet to be found by a court-appointed committee.
The American civil liberties Union, which sued to reunite families, has asked the administration for legal status in the United States for families that have been separated, as well as financial compensation for those families and attorneys at government expense.
ACLU attorney, Lee Gelernt said he would be extremely disappointed if the task force limits its scope to helping find parents of the remaining 600 children.
A review of border security will include a policy that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexican border cities for hearings in US immigration court.
The executive action does not address whether parents who have been deported will be given special protections to come back to the United States to reunite with their children.
The order would also review the Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which has left tens of thousands of asylum-seekers, most of them Central American, living in poor conditions in northern Mexico as they await court hearings to make their cases for protection in the US
“We want to put in place an immigration process here that can, that is humane, that is moral, that considers applications for refugees, applications for people to come into this country at the border in a way that treats people as human beings, white house press secretary Jen Psaki said