EAH Immigration Blog

Update on Children Separated at the Border Due to Trump Zero-Tolerance Policy

In February, President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing an Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, in response to the prior administration’s use of immigration laws to intentionally separate children from their parents and legal guardians, including through the use of a zero-tolerance policy. In its first 120 days, the Task Force (1) identified nearly all of the children who were separated from their parents as a result of that policy and related initiatives; (2) established a reunification process for these families; and (3) began reunifying parents and legal guardians with their separated children in the United States.

Of the 3,913 children identified, 1,786 have already been reunified with a parent – most prior to the creation of the Task Force – leaving 2,127 children who have not yet been reunified to the Task Force’s knowledge. While many of the initial hurdles encountered during the first 120 days have been overcome, key decisions and challenges remain, most notably the absence of family separation records maintained by the prior administration.

Prior to establishment of the Task Force, 1,779 children were reunified with their parents in the United States. Over the last 30 days, the Task Force facilitated, through close coordination with the NGOs and attorneys representing the families, the reunification of seven children with their parents. The Task Force started reunifying families in coordination with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is representing the families, by accepting humanitarian parole requests for an initial group of individuals. One child was reunited with a parent in March 2021 and six children were reunited in May 2021. As of May 28, 2021, 48 family members filed requests for humanitarian parole with DHS. Thirty-seven individual cases, comprising 29 families, have been adjudicated and will be reunited in the coming weeks. The remaining cases are still being adjudicated. NGOs who have been working with families and the ACLU continue to play a critical role in contacting parents and facilitating the reunification with their children.

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