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Biden Admin Announces Task Force To Reunite Families Separated At Border

Since taking over the Oval Office, President Joe Biden has spent much of his energy undoing the policies of his predecessor.

So far, Biden has issued a flurry of executive orders seeking to reverse former President Trump's policies on healthcare, abortion services, climate change and environmental regulation, the transgender military ban, pandemic policies such as requiring masks to be worn on federal property, and racial bias in housing programs, among others, USA Today reported.

One of the larger looming issues the new Biden administration had also targeted was immigration, and a recent Biden press conference announced new steps to again reverse the Trump administration's positions.

From the Oval Office, President Biden announced his administration will establish a task force charged with reuniting families separated at the border during the Trump administration.

Condemning his predecessor's policy of separating parents from their children as a "stain on the reputation" of the U.S., Biden designated new Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, as the head of the new task force.

In creating the task force, Biden said his administration sought to "undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families, their mothers, and fathers, at the border, and with no plan — none whatsoever — to reunify," The Guardian reported.

The task force has a big job ahead.

Family reunifications will require identifying all families broken up by the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, thousands of which occurred before the policy became public in April 2018.

Given that so many happened while the policy was secret, and that separations were undertaken without a method of tracking the family members, it's unclear just how many families have to be reunited. The latest number, given in an ongoing court case in December, was put at 628 children that need to be reunited with their parents, according to The Guardian.

The haphazard nature of the separations is expected to hamper the task force's work.

The task force, which will be vice-chaired by the secretaries of state and health and human services, and which will also include First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, will have to make the 600+ reunifications on a case-by-case basis, an official told ABC News.

"There's no one solution that fits all. It will be an individual assessment," the official said.

The task force also faces the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as confusion caused by hurricanes that struck the U.S. last year.

Observers welcomed the news of the task force and are encouraging the Biden administration to waste no time in getting to work.

"Hopefully the executive order does not limit the task force mandate to provide full relief for all the families, but beyond that, it's critical that the task force take immediate action," ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt told ABC News.

"We are not oblivious to the scope of what the Biden administration has inherited, but where little children are involved, we need the new administration to act concretely and immediately to avoid further harm."

Biden also signed two other executive actions on immigration at the press conference.

One seeks to address the root causes of migration to the U.S. from Central America, which will include working with other countries and non-profit groups to ensure those seeking to enter the U.S. have legal pathways to do so, and to increase other countries' ability to host migrants.

The other executive order involved a review of legal immigration to the U.S., including Trump administration policies such as the "public charge rule," which complicates legal immigration for those relying on public benefits like food stamps or Medicaid. The order also seeks to eliminate some bureaucracy in the legal immigration process.

h/t: The Guardian, ABC News

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