+
Democracy

Biden task force reunites 400 children with their families separated by cruel border policy

The 'zero tolerance' policy was cruel and unthinkable.

immigration, border policy, biden, trump
Photo by Chris Boese on Unsplash

Thousands of children and parents were forcibly separated while seeking asylum in 2017 and 2018.

The United States espouses noble ideals and has worked for more than two centuries to make its way toward them. It's always been an uneven process, however, and sometimes we stumble—or get violently shoved—backward.

The "zero tolerance" policy for handling migrant families was one of those times. The policy, unofficially piloted by the Trump administration in 2017 and officially enacted in May of 2018, forced children and parents to be separated instead of being detained together while awaiting asylum decisions.

During those two years, thousands of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border were taken from their families with no notice, sometimes torn straight from the parents' arms, and sent away to unknown locations around the country. Thousands of parents and caregivers were deported with no idea where their children were or if they'd ever see them again. Some were toddlers and preschoolers. We read horror stories of children screaming while being taken away, their parents frantic but helpless to do anything about it.


These were not all people trying to enter the U.S. illegally. Many were going through the legal asylum-seeking process. According to NBC, lawyers estimated that more than two-thirds of the parents and caregivers were deported, leaving thousands of children behind.

After intense pressure from human rights advocates around the world, President Trump signed an executive order ending the policy in June 2018. But the monstrous mess was already made. Thousands of families had been separated with no recourse and thousands of children thrown into foster homes in an unfamiliar country with no warning. There's no other way to describe it but cruel and unthinkable.

And if that weren't inhumane enough, after a federal judge ordered that the children be reunited with their families within 30 days, it came to light that the administration had enacted the policy with no clear method of keeping track of which kids were separated and no plans to find and reunite them with their families. There was simply no way to make it happen that quickly.

One of the first things President Biden did after his inauguration was to address this crisis directly through an executive order. On February 2, 2021, he formed the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families and tasked it with "identifying all children who were separated from their families at the United States-Mexico border between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, in connection with the operation of the Zero-Tolerance Policy" and "to the greatest extent possible, facilitating and enabling the reunification of each of the identified children with their families."

Michelle Brané, executive director of the task force, told NBC News that the Biden administration has now successfully reunited 400 migrant children impacted by the zero tolerance policy with their families. It has been a daunting challenge, considering the lack of record-keeping, and there are still more families who remain separated. But it's at least a step forward from that enormous leap back.

The children's parents and caregivers are being brought back to the U.S. and given temporary legal status to be able to live and work in the U.S. for three years. They are also allowed to bring dependent family members with them. Lawyers are pushing for the families to be given permanent status, but the Biden administration has not agreed on that yet.

While this is good news, we also must remember that these children's lives are changed forever and the trauma they have endured at the hands of the U.S. government will not easily be overcome. These kids were taken from the only security many of them had ever known—their family—and sent to live with strangers in a strange land. It's an unfathomable thing to imagine as a parent.

Immigration and asylum are complicated issues, but there are some lines we simply do not cross when dealing with challenging issues. Tearing kids from their parents' arms and sending them away to an undisclosed place for an indefinite amount of time in an unfamiliar country is a line we should never have crossed. It was cruel to both the parents and the children, and purposefully so.

While we can't undo the damage already done, let's celebrate the fact that some of those wrongs are beginning to be righted, and let's ensure that nothing like that is ever done in our name again.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less
This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Because you're a girl.

This article originally appeared on 04.14.17


I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.

But it wasn't long until a note came in saying, “Everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." In spite of having a great week at a great company with great people whom I love, that still stung, because it's not the first time I've heard it.

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

What I realized about feminism after my male friend was disgusted by tampons at a party.

"After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have."

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

It’s okay men. You don’t have to be afraid.

This article originally appeared on 08.12.16


Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later.

And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.

Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I'll explain.

Keep ReadingShow less