Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

US efforts to reunite families separated at border moving slowly

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – An effort by US President Joe Biden to reunite migrant families separated by the previous administration is moving slowly, with only seven children reunited with parents, according to a US Department of Homeland Security report released on Tuesday (June 8).

Another 29 families are set to be reunited in the coming weeks, the report said.

Shortly after taking office, Mr Biden issued an executive order that established a task force in February to reunify children separated from their families at the United States-Mexico border, calling such separations a “human tragedy”.

The Donald Trump administration had split apart thousands of migrant families under a blanket “zero tolerance” policy that called for the prosecution of all unauthorised border crossers in spring 2018. Government watchdogs and advocates have found that the separations began before and continued after the policy.

The task force submitted its first 120-day progress report to Mr Biden on June 2, a senior Homeland Security Department official said during a call with reporters on Monday.

The official defended the small number of families reunited to date, saying the agency “chose intentionally to start slow” to address logistical hurdles so that the process can be scaled up in future.

The Biden task force, using information from advocates and ongoing litigation, has identified roughly 3,900 children separated from parents at the border and 1,700 cases that remain under review, the report said.

Of the 3,900 separated children identified, nearly 1,800 have been reunited with a parent. Nearly all of those reunions happened before the creation of the task force, the report said.

While the overall number of children still separated from their parents is unknown, the report estimates that it could be more than 2,000.

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