First migrant families reunited in 'beginning' of larger effort

First migrant families reunited in 'beginning' of larger effort
© Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday that four families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border during the Trump administration will be reunited this week in the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasHillicon Valley: Senate report finds major cyber shortcomings in federal agencies | Gig firms seek Mass. ballot question to classify workers as contractors | Blizzard's president steps down after workplace protests Hillicon Valley: Social media giants fail to block 84 percent of antisemitic content: report | White House cyber chief backs new federal bureau to track threats Bipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions MORE said these reunions were “just the beginning” of a widespread effort to reunite families separated during the Trump administration.

Mayorkas said two of the families who will be reunited include two mothers, one Honduran and one Mexican, who were separated from their children in 2017, The Associated Press reports. The secretary described the children as 3 years old at the time and “teenagers who have had to live without their parent during their most formative years."

ADVERTISEMENT

“The Family Reunification Task Force has been working day and night, across the federal government and with counsel for the families and our foreign partners, to address the prior administration’s cruel separation of children from their parents,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “Today is just the beginning. We are reuniting the first group of families, many more will follow, and we recognize the importance of providing these families with the stability and resources they need to heal.”

The task force is a joint effort by the State, Health and Human Services and Justice departments.

The parents will return to the U.S. on humanitarian parole, according to the AP, as longer-term forms of legal status are considered. The news service added that more than 5,000 children are believed to have been separated from their families during the Trump administration beginning in July 2017 under its "zero-tolerance" policy.

President BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response MORE had criticized the policy as an act of cruelty multiple times and signed an executive order on his first day in office pledging to reunite separated families “to the greatest extent possible," the AP notes.

House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHouse members will huddle Friday to plot next steps on Jan. 6 probe Budowsky: Liz Cheney, a Reagan Republican, and Pelosi, Ms. Democrat, seek Jan. 6 truth The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE (D-Miss.) said in a statement on Monday that this week's reunifications show that "we are beginning to turn the page on this dark chapter in American history."

The development comes as the Biden administration faces a sharp increase in the number of migrants crossing the border from Mexico, including unaccompanied children.

--Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report, which was updated at 12:22 p.m.