Biden to delay executive orders on immigration: A task force of the new Administration is working to see that all families separated at the border during the four years of the Trump Administration are reunited.
The White House will likely delay implementation of a series of immigration-related executive orders, including the long-awaited announcement of a task force to reunite migrant families separated under the Donald Trump Administration, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.
During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised to create a task force “on his first day as president.” In a memo outlining early executive actions, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain assured that the Biden Administration would “begin the difficult but critical work of reuniting families separated at the border.”
Another planning document circulated among Biden officials indicated that executive action on immigration would be released on Friday.
Sources involved in the discussions say they have been delayed “at least a few days,” but did not explain the cause of the delay.
When the task force is announced, it is expected to be an interagency effort between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Health and the State Department, led by Biden’s hand-picked DHS secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, according to three sources familiar with the planning.
Its goal will be to reunite all migrant families separated at the border over the four years of Trump’s presidency, not by deportations carried out from inside the country, according to these sources. The task force will also produce a report on what led to the separations and recommend that such a policy never be repeated, though it will not conduct an investigation that could lead to clearing the officials responsible of criminal charges, the sources added. Instead, any investigation requiring the subpoenaing of witnesses will be left to the discretion of the Justice Department, these sources said.
But other key details are still being worked out, such as what factors may disqualify families from being reunited and whether those who do qualify but have been deported will receive special protections, such as humanitarian relief, to come to the United States.
All families separated at the border during the four years of the Trump Administration, not just those separated during the “zero tolerance” policy, will be eligible for reunification by the task force, according to three sources familiar with the planning discussions.
Nearly 3,000 migrant children were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border under the “zero tolerance” policy, which systematically separated children from their parents whose only crime was crossing the border illegally during May and June 2018.
But before that, more than 1,000 families were separated in a pilot program in and around El Paso, Texas. And after June 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) estimates that another 1,000 families have been separated at the U.S. border.
But many of those parents have been deported, making it more difficult to find them and, if they are found, presenting them with the difficult choice of taking their children to a dangerous country or allowing them to live in the United States with relatives. The task force announcement is not expected to include details on whether families will receive special permission to come to the United States to reunite with their children.
Pro-bono groups that have so far worked to reunify families separated under the 2017 pilot program, and the 2018 zero-tolerance program, say they have been unable to reach the parents of more than 600 children and believe two-thirds of them have been deported.