The top official at the Department of Homeland Security said on March 1 the Biden administration believes it is a “moral imperative” to reunite migrant families, as he blamed the previous administration for the waves of people that agents have encountered at the southern border in recent weeks.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is heading a task force dedicated to family reunification at the direction of President Joe Biden, said options include flying the parents of unaccompanied minors caught at the border to the United States.
“We are hoping to reunite the families either here or in the country of origin; we hope to be in a position to give them the selection,” he told reporters during a briefing at the White House in Washington.
“And if, in fact, they seek to reunite here in the United States, we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States and to address the family needs. So we are acting as restoratively as possible.”
Mayorkas shared calls with top officials of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—three major sources of people migrating to the United States—on Feb. 26, according to summaries released by the White House on March 1.
The DHS secretary spoke with the three officials about the Biden administration’s “comprehensive approach to addressing irregular migration, including through a regional strategy to address its root causes and improve migration management,” according to the summaries.
He also spoke about combating trafficking, working on “additional options for legal pathways for migration,” and “the need to counter false narratives about migration.”
The Biden administration is working with the countries, nongovernmental groups, and Congress to reunite minors with their families, Mayorkas told reporters.
“This is not only an all-of-government but all-of-society effort to do what is right,” he said.
The United States is seeing a rise in migrants at the border in recent weeks as the new administration rolls back some of former President Donald Trump’s signature policies, such as requiring asylum-seekers to wait outside the country.
However, critics of the Biden administration say those rollbacks, along with new rules, are driving the increase.
“The president is basically not, as the Constitution suggests or orders, taking care to faithfully execute laws of the United States or secure the borders of the United States. And what is that doing? It’s causing an empowerment of cartels. And it is causing an attraction of human beings to come here where they think they’re going to get here and get amnesty, and a rush to our border,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times over the weekend.
“And that endangers the lives of American citizens, but importantly, it endangers the lives of immigrants who are seeking to come to our country,” he added.
But Mayorkas on March 1 claimed the past administration engaged in “cruelty” and blamed its policies for the situation at the border.
“To put it succinctly, the prior administration dismantled our nation’s immigration system in its entirety,” he said.
“We are dedicated to achieving and quite frankly are working around the clock to replace the cruelty of the past administration with an orderly, humane and safe immigration process. It is hard and it will take time. But rest assured we are going to get it done.”
The Biden administration must rebuild the immigration system “virtually from scratch,” the newly confirmed official added.