President Joe Biden is set to sign three more executive orders targeting immigration reform, including the creation of a task force to begin a process to reunite families separated at the US-Mexico border by the federal government.
The president’s executive order on family reunification will seek to identify all minor children separated by their parents or legal guardians at the border under Donald Trump‘s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting migrants for “illegal entry” at the southern border, which resulted in hundreds of separated families and imprisoned children in 2018.
More than 5,500 asylum-seeking families were separated during the Trump administration’s four-year term, though many of those families were reunited. Immigrant advocates are still searching for more than 600 parents, while more than 1,400 others who were deported without their children have now spent years separated from their families in the countries they fled in the first place.
A senior administration official said the order broadly defines the “zero tolerance” era to also include the Trump administration’s earlier test of the policy in El Paso, Texas, during which hundreds of other families were separated and deported.
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Another measure will review the underlying causes of migration from Central and South America into the US “to confront the instability, violence and economic insecurity that currently drives migrants from their homes.”
That executive order will also direct the administration to work with foreign governments, international aid groups and nonprofit organisations to “provide protection and opportunities to asylum seekers and migrants closer to home.”
The order also directs a review of the Migrant Protection Protocol programme – the so-called Remain in Mexico policy – that has allowed US border enforcement to send thousands of asylum seekers to potentially dangerous areas in Mexico while their claims are pending in US courts.