Feb 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign order creating task force to reunite families separated at border

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President Biden will sign three immigration-related executive orders on Tuesday — including one that will establish a task force aimed at reuniting migrant families separated under former President Trump's hardline immigration policies, according to senior administration officials.

Why it matters: The Trump administration oversaw the separation of more than 5,500 migrant families, including hundreds of children whose parents or guardians have still not been located, per a December court filing.

Details: The task force, which will be chaired by the secretary of homeland security, will first work to identify the children and families who have been separated, the officials said.

  • It will make recommendations to the president and federal agencies about how best to reunite the families.
  • The task force will also be required to the report regularly to the president and recommend steps to prevent family separation in the future.

The second order Biden will sign is aimed at addressing the root causes of irregular migration and reviewing the Trump administration's Migrant Protection Protocols program, also known as the "Remain in Mexico," program, according to the officials.

  • This includes ensuring Central American refugees and asylum seekers have access to "legal avenues" to the U.S.
  • The order will also instruct the DHS to review the MPP program, and direct federal agencies to examine and rescind several Trump administration proclamations, rules, and guidance that effectively closed the U.S. border to asylum seekers.

The third order is focused on restoring "faith in our legal immigration system," the officials said.

  • It will order a review of several Trump policies, including the public charge rule and related policies.
  • It will also rescind Trump's memorandum requiring family sponsors to repay the government if relatives receive public benefits, and streamline the naturalization process.

The big picture: Immigration was one of Trump’s biggest focuses, and Biden is beginning to roll back that legacy one executive action at a time.

Of note: A federal court has temporarily blocked the deportation freeze.

Between the lines: While advocates welcome Biden's push to overhaul the immigration system, they also say the administration has a long way to go to implement meaningful reform.

  • Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration during his four years in office.
  • Officials have stressed the Biden administration continues to review Trump's immigration policies.
  • Biden also faces opposition by Republicans, and could run into roadblocks in the courts.

Worth noting: The Senate is expected to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security later Tuesday.

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