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Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced Monday that the Biden administration will explore "lawful pathways" to allow migrant families separated under the Trump administration to reunite in the U.S.

Why it matters: Biden has pledged to reunite the hundreds of families still separated as a result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, and signed an executive order last month creating a family separation task force chaired by Mayorkas.

  • Mayorkas said at a press briefing that 105 families have been recently reunited, and that the federal government is "dedicating resources full-time" to reunion efforts.
  • He added that the administration is also "working closely" with legal counsel for the separated families, the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, non-governmental organizations, and soon the private sector.

The big picture: Mayorkas tore into the Trump administration for its past immigration policies, calling the family separations "the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded" the Biden presidency and claiming that Trump "gutted" the immigration system.

  • The secretary cautioned that "it takes time to rebuild an entire system and to process individuals at the border," especially during a pandemic.
  • He urged prospective migrants "to wait" before coming to the U.S. in order to avoid adding to immigration backlogs, and noted that the Biden administration is "obligated" to continue using a Trump-era public health program to expel migrants due to COVID-19.
  • Mayorkas also insisted that there's not a crisis at the border, instead calling it "a challenge at the border that we are managing.”

What to watch: Mayorkas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other White House officials will be on President Biden's call this afternoon with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his top aides.

Go deeper

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."