WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s task force for reuniting migrant families separated by the Trump administration will allow separated families “the option of being reunified either in the United States or their county of origin,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Monday.
Mayorkas called the separation of thousands of migrant families under the Trump administration “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that proceeded this administration,” in a White House briefing.
Lawyers representing the families in a federal lawsuit had called on the Biden administration to make such a move to allow parents who were separated from their children and then deported without them to come back to the United States to reunify.
They argued that without special protections for those parents to come back to the United States, they are forced to choose between bringing their children back to dangerous conditions in their home counties or remaining separated.
Mayorkas also announced Michelle Brané as executive director of the task force, as NBC News previously reported. He said the task force will be working with non-governmental organizations as well as the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Other benefits and protections the task force will give the separated families include transportation, healthcare and mental health services as well as legal, career and educational services, with no costs being passed down to families.
A DHS spokesperson said that the task force will also consider siblings of children separated for reunification.
Jacob Soboroff is a correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC and author of the New York Times bestseller “Separated: Inside an American Tragedy.”
Julia Ainsley is a correspondent covering the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Geoff Bennett is a White House correspondent for NBC News.