Immigrant families separated at the borders by Trump’s policies
Between 2017 and 2021, the Trump administration carried out one of the most comprehensive immigration plans in recent history of the US. Through hundreds of executive actions, the Trump administration transformed the immigration system, increasing eligibility requirements to enter the country and hindering humanitarian processes for vulnerable populations.
The Trump administration’s main goal was to curb immigration at all costs, both illegal and legal. To examine the repercussions of many of Trump’s policies on the immigration sector, we must understand that in order to reduce immigration, strict rules and policies must be implemented, especially in a country like the US, which is the destination of millions of immigrants annually.
Analyzing Trump’s stance on immigration, one could conclude that his administration faithfully believed that “the end justifies the means” since many immigration policies implemented during the last four years unleashed a humanitarian crisis at the borders, especially those that led to the separation of thousands of immigrant minors from their parents.
Trump’s “Zero Tolerance Policy”
For instance, Trump’s “Zero Tolerance Policy” increased the separation of immigrant families at the borders. Broadly speaking, this policy states that adult immigrants who try to cross the US borders without legal documentation must face criminal prosecution, regardless of whether they need international protection or not.
Therefore, under this policy and with the Trump administration’s approval, border forces separated thousands of immigrant minors from their relatives since children cannot face legal charges nor can they be detained by border agencies for more than 72 hours.
Hundreds of minors have still not been able to find their parents after more than three years, who were possibly deported under the Trump administration. On top of that, the global Coronavirus pandemic has made the family reunification process more difficult.
Families separated under the Trump administration may remain in the US
Since President Biden took office in late January 2021, one of his main focuses has been to lift Trump’s restrictions on the immigration system and try to repair damages caused to immigrant families over the past four years.
Regarding the family reunification project, Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of DHS (Department of Homeland Security), recently stated that families separated at the borders under the Trump administration will have the option to be reunited in their countries of origin, once the organizations in charge locate them, or they will be able to remain in the US and will have access to immigration benefits to legally reside in the country.
Mayorkas stated that, to the extent possible and as allowed by law, the Biden administration will recursively use all possible means to bring justice to immigrant families affected by Trump’s policies and offer individualized help to those who need it most.
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