This Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a new policy regarding family reunification. Separated migrant families will now have the option to be reunified in either the United States or their home countries. Furthermore, the Biden administration plans to offer families reuniting within the United States more support and opportunities to stay in the country. The decision came from the Biden administration’s reunification task force, established solely to reunite the families separated under the harmful policies of the Trump administration. In his briefing, Secretary Mayorkas described this separation of families under Trump as “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration.”
The decision to offer migrants the opportunity to reunite in the United States follows the admirable efforts of the teams of pro-bono lawyers representing migrant families in a federal lawsuit. The attorneys stressed the difficult choice migrants are forced to make–parents must either bring their children back to dangerous situations in their home countries, or remain separated. These lawyers have been calling on the Biden administration to take action immediately to offer these families restitution and protection.
Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security’s statement was brief and lacked exact details. Secretary Mayorkas also warned that progress will take time. Despite these disappointments, however, the decision is a promising update in the Biden administration’s “moral imperative” to reverse Trump’s harmful family separation policies. There will surely be more positive changes to come, as indicated by the Department of Homeland Security’s consideration to extend the policy to separated siblings.