By ELLIOT SPAGAT*
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden talks with a protester objecting to his stance on deportations during a town hall at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C., on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. President Joe Biden’s administration has deported hundreds of people in its first days in office despite the president’s campaign pledge to halt most deportations at the beginning of his term. It’s unclear how many of the people deported in recent days are considered national security or public safety threats or recently crossed the border illegally, as prescribed by new guidance issued by Biden’s Department of Homeland Security to enforcement agencies. That guidance went into effect Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, file)
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration on Tuesday announced steps to address harm to thousands of families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, expanding efforts to quickly undo relentless changes to immigration policy over the last four years.
President Joe Biden planned to sign orders on family separation, border security and legal immigration, bringing to nine the number of executive actions on immigration during his first two weeks in office. Details were thin, but the moves aim to reverse many of former President Donald Trump’s policies to deter immigration, both legal and illegal.
Alejandro Mayorkas, whose nomination as Homeland Security secretary awaits Senate confirmation, will lead a task force on family separation, focused largely on reuniting parents and children who remain apart. It is unclear how many, but about 5,500 children have been identified in court documents as having been separated during Trump’s presidency, including about 600 whose parents have yet to be found by a court-appointed committee.
“The task force will report regularly to the President and recommend steps to prevent such tragedies from occurring again,” the Biden administration said in a statement.
The review of border security includes a policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexican border cities for hearings in U.S. immigration court. It is a step toward fulfilling a campaign pledge to end the Remain in Mexico policy, known officially as Migrant Protection Protocols, which enrolled nearly 70,000 asylum-seekers since it began in January 2019.