(Washington) Nearly a thousand migrant children, separated from their parents under the mandate of former US President Donald Trump, have still not been reunited with them, the government of his Democratic successor said on Thursday.
Anxious to correct what he considered a “national disgrace”, Joe Biden had set up upon his arrival at the White House a cell dedicated to identifying and locating the families of migrants separated under the mandate of his Republican predecessor.
“To date, the task force has identified 3,924 children separated” from their families between 2017 and 2021, of which 998 have still not been reunited with their parents, announced the Department of Homeland Security after two years of work.
Among them, 148 are “in the process” of joining them and “183 families have been informed of the possibility of being reunited”, he added in a press release.
“We understand that this essential work is not finished”, commented the Minister of Internal Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “The task force continues to try to contact separated families to offer them the possibility of reuniting in the United States,” he added.
The administration of Donald Trump, who had made the fight against illegal immigration a marker of his presidency, had raised in 2017 the idea of separating the families of migrants who entered the United States illegally, as a means of deterrence.
Its so-called “Zero Tolerance” policy was officially launched in April 2018. It consisted of opening criminal proceedings against anyone who entered illegally at the border with Mexico. Consequence: the parents could be immediately placed in detention without their children.
The tragedies experienced by these families had caused an outcry even in the Republican ranks, so much so that Donald Trump had ordered in June 2018 to put an end to it, a judge imposing on his side the reunification of divided families.
More than 2,000 children were then returned to their parents.
But, at the same time, the administration of Donald Trump had continued to separate families by relying on the rule which makes it possible to arrest and deport an undocumented parent if he has committed a serious offense. According to the associations, it had hijacked this rule to apply it even to minor offences, particularly road offences.