Immigration policies led to the separation of families at the borders
Reducing immigration was always a priority for the Trump administration, just as improving the immigration system is a priority for the current administration of the US, headed by President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate who took office two weeks ago (January 20, 2021).
To achieve the goal of reducing immigration, both legal and illegal, the Trump administration implemented hundreds of changes to immigration policies and substantially increased restrictions and requirements on migration processes of all kinds, from humanitarian alternatives for vulnerable populations, to programs for foreign workers or international students.
The policies that most caught the attention of the American population, especially activist groups and immigrant rights advocates, were those whose repercussions affected immigrant communities in need of international protection such as asylum seekers and refugees, who flee from persecution, danger, abuse and violence.
To give a specific example, Trump’s “Zero Tolerance Policy” led to the separation of thousands of immigrant minors from their parents, who faced criminal prosecution under this policy for violating local immigration law. This policy unleashed a gigantic social controversy and was in force for less than two years due to the prompt reaction of activist groups.
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President Biden issues executive order to reunify immigrant families
On Tuesday, February 2, 2021, the current president of the US issued the “Executive Order on the Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families,” which outlines an action plan to repair the damage caused by policies such as “Zero Tolerance” on immigrant families separated at the borders.
President Biden states that reuniting separated immigrant families, respecting their integrity and implementing policies that hold them together is a priority for his administration. In fact, the President declares, “My Administration will protect family unity and ensure that children entering the United States are not separated from their families.”
Also, President Biden orders his task force, including members of DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and HHS (Department of Health and Human Services), to establish a strategy to, among other things:
- Identify minors separated from their relatives at the borders of the US between 2017 and 2021.
- Use all the tools and resources at their disposal to locate the relatives of hundreds of minors who have not been able to find them and guarantee, as far as possible, family reunification.
- If necessary, provide additional services such as medical or mental health assistance.
- Report periodically to President Biden on progress and updates of the family reunification project.
Thus, with this action plan, the Biden administration plans to repair the damage caused by Trump’s restrictive policies, although there are consequences that could last a lifetime and affect the development and growth of minors.
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