MSNBC Screenshot

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced yesterday that migrant parents and children separated by Donald Trump's family separation policy will be allowed to reunite in the US if they want, something that immigration advocates have been calling for since the separations began. During a White House briefing Monday, Mayorkas called Trump's experiment in "deterring" illegal immigration by terrorizing families and children "the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration." Here's the video, with Mayorkas calling family reunification "a moral imperative," because we're still getting used to government officials not sounding monstrous when talking about immigration:

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 election and, if in fact, they seek to reunite here in the US, 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.

We worry that video editors at numerous rightwing media outlets may have already isolated the phrase "We hope to be in a position to give them the election" for future out of context use.


Under Trump's "zero tolerance" policy, and pilot programs that preceded it, more than 5,500 kids were taken away from their parents, with only haphazard records kept by the agencies. A federal judge had ordered that all families affected by the policy be reunited, but the Trump administration insisted that finding the parents — about two-thirds of whom had already been deported — wasn't its job, so it was left to ACLU attorneys representing the families and to nonprofit groups. In December, a year after the court order, the Justice Department coughed up new data it had been sitting on, but more than 600 children's parents still hadn't been identified by the time Joe Biden took office in January.

Since Biden appointed a task force to reunite the remaining families, about 105 of the children's parents have been identified by attorneys. (Mayorkas said in the presser that he understood those 105 families have been "reunited" already, but darned if we're finding details.) Mayorkas also said he has gotten commitments from the foreign ministers of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to work with the task force, which will also coordinate its work with the families' attorneys and NGOs to reunite the remaining families.

A DHS "Statement of Principles" for the task force released yesterday also said that support for separated families would include "transportation, healthcare (including trauma and mental health services), legal services, and career and educational services," and that the costs of those services would be "borne by government, NGOs, and the private sector – and never by the families."

To which we can only say, goddamned right, and we wish those costs could be extracted from the personal assets of Donald Trump, Stephen Miller, Jeff Sessions, John Kelly, and everyone else who put the policy in place. But we'll settle for "at no cost to the families."

Also too, Mayorkas announced the appointment of Michelle Brané, the director of migrant rights and justice programs at the Women's Refugee Commission, as executive director of the task force. Mayorkas is its chair, but since he has that other job of unfucking an entire Cabinet department following the Trump years, Brané will be responsible for the task force's day-to-day operations. Before the choice was formalized, Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, praised Brané as a "fantastic" choice, saying she would bring "deep expertise on the issues and the perfect mixture of passion and common sense" to the task force.

This is all very reassuring. The challenge will be making sure it all goes ahead as promised.

[NBC News / Politico / DHS / NBC News]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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