New executive order creates taskforce to reunite families separated at Mexican border

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday that will reverse some of the previous administration’s immigration policy.  

The order establishes a new taskforce to reunite families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.   

"I’m not making new law; I’m eliminating bad policy," Biden said after signing the federal directive.  

During his campaign, Biden said he would make reuniting families a priority. The interagency task force, which will be chaired by the Department of Homeland Security secretary, is Biden’s effort to make good on his campaign promise. They will work to identify all children separated from their families between 2017 and 2021 in connection with the Trump Administration’s controversial zero-tolerance policy.  

"We have seen some of the children that were separated from parents here in Minnesota," said Sarah Brenes, director of refugee and immigrant program at The Advocates for Human Rights. "A lot of service providers who serve unaccompanied children worked with them on an individual basis and partnered with other agencies to try and piece together the little resources provided at the time to reunite children." 

Activists said the latest executive order is a step in the right direction. 

"The announcement of Biden’s policy is a big deal," said Vivian Ihekoronye, lead organizer for ISAIAH. ISAIAH a multi-racial and nonpartisan coalition of faith communities fighting for racial and economic justice throughout the state of Minnesota. "It sends a message that no matter who we are, where we come from, what we look like or how many years we been in this, the country we all deserve a place to call home and not be separated from our families."  

They add, however, there’s still a lot of work need to be done regarding the nation's immigration policy. 

"Our immigration court has close to 15,000 cases that are pending right now. That is triple what it was just a few years ago," said Brenes. The average case at our court is heard in four years. The longest case pending is 15 years. Focus on detention and COVID-19 closures have ballooned the court’s backlog. Many of them are parents that are waiting for a decision from the court so that they can have their children join them.  

"We have to think about what the future will look like, and I think one of the key pieces is to make sure we have a step towards citizenship," Ihekoronye said.