San Diego – The United States government reported today, Tuesday, that it identified more than 3,900 migrant minors separated from their parents on the border with Mexico under former President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal entry into the country.
Authorities provided one of the most detailed counts in a chapter in American immigration history that received widespread condemnation.
The Joe Biden administration’s family reunification task force’s count of 3,913 minors separated between July 1, 2017 and the end of the Trump presidency is well below the more than 5,500 identified by the American Union by the Civil Liberties (ACLU) in court documents, based on government information.
The task force said it identified “almost all” minors who were separated in accordance with that policy but will review another 1,723 cases since July 2017, which could bring the total number of files examined to 5,636, more similar to the count of the ACLU. The discrepancy appears to lie primarily in a federal court ruling in San Diego that excluded 1,723 children who were removed for other reasons, such as risk of being in danger or concerns about paternity.
Authorities will also try to determine whether there were family separations during the first six months of Trump’s presidency, beginning in January 2017, something that is out of the ACLU’s lawsuit. This could also raise the final figure.
Of the 3,913 minors, 1,786 have returned with one of their parents, mostly during the Trump presidency, the parents of 1,965 others have been contacted, and the whereabouts of 391 more are unknown. Many of those contacted were turned over to other relatives.
The report provided unpublished data: about 60% of the minors separated based on the migration policy of the previous government were Guatemalans (2,270), followed by Hondurans (1,150), Salvadorans (281), Mexicans (75), Brazilians (74) and Romanians (23).
The Border Patrol of the Yuma sector, in Arizona, registered the highest number of separations among the nine sectors of the border with Mexico, with 1,114 cases. The Rio Grande Valley in Texas, which attracted media attention as the most widely used corridor for illegal crossings, was the second point with 1,025 cases. El Paso, Texas, where a 2017 trial of the policy took place that was not made public at the time, was the third with 982 cases.
The Biden administration has vowed to reunite parents and children who remain separated, but the pace of reunifications has been slow and it is unclear how many will take place. The first four parents returned to the United States last month, within what the task force identified as an initial group of 62 people.
A group of children with their families take a break from the march to the United States in a park in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (The Associated Press)
Migrants cross the Suchiate River on the Mexican side after crossing the border with Guatemala. (The Associated Press)
Young migrants say hello while on board a raft made of car tires and wood. They were crossing the Suchiate River. (The Associated Press)
The group on the ingenious raft. (The Associated Press)
A Mexican agent gives food to Hondurans who are trapped on a bridge without being able to cross. (The Associated Press)
When the Mexican authorities began to block the passage, people managed to cross. (The Associated Press)
A migrant from Honduras is helped by a paramedic from Mexico after her mother fainted while trying to cross. (The Associated Press)
South Americans seek a better life in the United States. (The Associated Press)
This man emerges victorious from the Suchiate River after crossing it. (The Associated Press)
An officer gives food to migrants through a gate. (The Associated Press)
Some 5,000 people resumed the caravan to the United States on Sunday. (The Associated Press)
The children take a break in a park in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (The Associated Press)
As the thousands of people crossed Mexico they received expressions of solidarity and help. (The Associated Press)
President Donald Trump has insisted that they will not enter his land. (The Associated Press)