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Families torn apart by the last administration may soon have the option of reuniting within the United States, a Biden administration official said Monday.
“We hope to be in a position to give them the election and if in fact, they seek to reunite here in the United States, we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States and to address the family needs,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a White House briefing, NBC News reported.
The announcement comes after the Biden administration created a task force aimed at reuniting families separated by the Trump administration as part of an effort — stopped by the legal system — of deterring migration from Central America. Parents who had their children taken away were exercising their legal right to seek asylum.
Medical professionals have likened the suffering faced by thousands of children to torture.
The parents of nearly 500 children have yet to be located, most having been immediately deported.
Last week, Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Insider that the policy of family separation was the worst thing he’s seen in 30 years of practicing immigration law.
The ACLU expressed cautious optimism in response to Mayorkas’ announcement. “Of course, the devil is in the details,” the group’s executive director, Anthony D. Romero, said in a statement. He called on the Biden administration to drop the “caveats and qualifications.”
“The United States has an affirmative obligation to reunite the separated families here if they so choose,” he said, “provide a pathway to citizenship for these families, and to remedy the trauma and torture these children and parents endured.”
The Biden administration last month said it would also admit roughly 25,000 asylum-seekers stranded south of the border by the last administration’s since-discarded “Remain in Mexico” initiative.
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