Reuniting Families Ripped Apart by Trump’s Depravity is Vital
This afternoon President Biden will sign three new Executive Orders on immigration. These three EOs are in addition to the six executive orders, two DHS memos, and the sweeping legislative proposal announced on day one. Below are four key points regarding the latest Executive Orders.
The family reunification task force is essential to redress and repair one of the darkest chapters in American history.
Trump’s family separation policy of ripping kids from the arms of their parents remains a moral stain on America. Accurately described as state-sponsored kidnapping and torture, the separation of thousands of children, including toddlers, is likely to go down in history as one of America’s worst human rights atrocities.
The new high-level Task Force should act with urgency to find, reunify and make restitution to families torn apart by the actions of our government. Key elements of addressing the harm: allow families to be reunited in America; and ensure that they are provided with counseling and support to heal.
The Biden administration faces a massive challenge in undoing the Trump administration’s cruelty toward asylum-seekers and migrants.
Trump and Stephen Miller have left a tangled, complicated mess. Operating from a sadistic deter-detain-and-deport strategy, they did far more than separate thousands of families at the border. They:
- Ended investments in Central America aimed at reducing violence in the communities that generate refugees and migrants;
- Ended the chance to apply for refugee resettlement from home countries;
- Cut off discussions of refugee processing from and refugee protection in neighboring countries, leaving the U.S.-Mexico border as, effectively, the only place to apply for safety;
- Ended the option of applying for asylum at the border entirely, using the cover of the pandemic to expel all arrivals;
- Forced tens of thousands of asylum-seekers into dangerous conditions in northern Mexico under the misnamed Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP);
- Locked families and adults in detention centers that are now COVID hotspots;
- Treated black immigrants and asylum-seekers with a racist disregard for their unique circumstances; and
- Built 450 miles of border wall, a vanity project that does nothing to intelligently manage the flow of refugees and migrants.
In addition, Trump and his team lied every time they screamed “catch and release.” The facts are these: according to the American Immigration Council, 83% of non-detained migrants attended all of their hearings over a ten-year period ending in 2018. The compliance percentage rises to 96% for those who are represented by an attorney. Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration ended case management programs that ensure high rates of representation and compliance.
Biden’s regional migration strategy is a welcome paradigm shift.
In contrast to the deterrence, detention and deportation policies of the Trump era, the Biden framework is a bold new vision. The three pillars are as follows:
- Address root causes so that, over time, migration becomes more a matter of choice and less a matter of life and death;
- Expand lawful pathways from the region through refugee resettlement, work visas and family reunification, and provide opportunities for refugee protection closer to home;
- Develop a functional and fair asylum process with sensible rules, turn away from detention hotspots, and turn towards case management programs to ensure compliance with the asylum process.
This is a paradigm shift. Some believe that migration from Central America starts at the U.S.-Mexico border, is caused by U.S. immigration policies, and is measured only by apprehensions. This myopic view obscures the regional nature of the challenge and the need for a multilayered regional strategy. The Biden strategy recognizes the dynamics of regional migration: migration happens; it is something that benefits America; it should be managed humanely rather than deterred cruelly: and over time, it is in everyone’s interest to reduce the insecurity, violence and instability that compels people to move from their home countries.
DHS Secretary Mayorkas will help turn President Biden’s initial immigration plans into transformative actions.
Due to a Senate Republican filibuster, the confirmation process for DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been delayed. Thanks to Senate Democrats breaking the filibuster, Alejandro Mayorkas, who enjoys support from across the political spectrum, is set for confirmation later today. Since much of the work described in the executive orders falls to DHS, it is imperative that the new Secretary be given the support and the staff to conduct the reviews and implement needed changes as soon as possible.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
In effect, the Biden administration is declaring war on Trump’s war on immigrants. Given the complex web of cruelty left behind by Trump and Stephen Miller, unwinding the cruelty and chaos and building a fair, humane and functional asylum and immigration system will take time, capacity, partnerships and follow through. The desperation on the ground calls out for urgent and immediate action.
The good news is that the Biden administration gets it: immigration is as old as the human race; it has and will continue to strengthen America, especially when the process is well-managed, safe and orderly; and America is at its best when we treat those who knock on our door with dignity, humanity and fairness, and welcome newcomers as new Americans.