The Trump administration separated more than 5,000 children from their families at the border between 2017 and 2018. In the aftermath of that atrocity, 545 children remained without their families. Today, under the Biden administration, at least 400 of them have been reunited with their families.
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“Our Task Force now has reunited 400 families separated by the last administration’s cruel policies. We will continue this important work, together with nonprofit organizations and our foreign partners,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.
One year ago, the Family Reunification Task Force—a group designated by President Joe Biden—presented their first progress report on their findings regarding the separated families and their challenges. Since then, they have published seven reports outlining their progress. As of May, the task force reported they had facilitated the reunification of 260 children.
In addition, the task force registered 269 potentially eligible families on Together.gov and Juntos.gov, bringing the total to 1,344 registered families. The figures include families without confirmed reunifications outside of the United States and families who were previously reunified and are in the United States.
Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that is representing the separated families in a class action lawsuit, said in a statement, “We are thrilled for the hundreds of children who will finally be with their parents after all these years, but we are not even halfway through reuniting all the families that remain separated by the Trump administration.”
He added, “And indeed, we still haven’t located nearly 200 families. I think the Biden administration would agree that there’s a lot of work yet to be done.”
On July 25, NBC News reported that three mothers and one father that were separated from their children during the Trump administration filed lawsuits in a federal court in Arizona against the US government. The families are seeking damages for the trauma they say they experienced during that period.
“Each of the four plaintiff families were separated with no notice, no information, and no plan for reunification,” attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote in the filing.
“For weeks, the parents and children were detained separately, sometimes thousands of miles apart. For weeks, the parents and children begged to be reunited. And for weeks, the government —due to a combination of ineptitude and cruelty — refused to provide information on their loved ones’ whereabouts, well-being, or whether they would ever see each other again.”