While President-elect Joe Biden has committed to forming a federal task force to put back together the families the Trump administration mercilessly tore apart, the question of where children who remain without their parents will be reunited reportedly remains up in the air. “Biden has so far not decided whether separated parents will be given the opportunity to come to the U.S. to reunite with their children and pursue claims to asylum,” NBC News reported earlier this month.
The answer as to where these families should be reunited is more than clear, Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair Joaquin Castro said on MSNBC this week. It should be here.
Court documents last month revealed that 545 children kidnapped by the administration when it was “piloting” family separation in 2017 remained separated from their families three years later. But in a horrific update, NBC News reported that attorneys said the number was actually higher, 666. Of that total, the report said that nearly 20% are children under age 5.
Biden announced the federal task force following the initial report, calling the ongoing separations “criminal” during the final presidential debate. “Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated, and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents,” he said. But while the president-elect has committed to reunification, there’s reportedly no decision yet about where.
It must happen here, Castro said, who last year introduced legislation with Sen. Richard Blumenthal that would put families separated under the zero tolerance policy on a path to U.S. citizenship. “[T]here’s a question then, once they’re reunited, where do they go, right?” Castro said. “And I believe, Sen. Blumenthal believes, and others believe, that they should be here in the United States.”
Castro had previously called for permanent protections for families, telling Vox’s Nicole Narea that “one of the things I believe that we absolutely should do is make sure they’re reunited, and allow them a place in the United States. That’s why Sen. Blumenthal and I proposed that piece of legislation, because we believe that these families deserve that, after their treatment by the United States government. These are people that were seeking asylum, fleeing violence and oppression in their own homeland.”
Castro had also called for the formation of a special commission to investigate this human rights disaster, telling Vox that it’s “the right thing to do and also, in many ways, necessary for our country.”
“I believe that, given the human rights abuses during the Trump administration, it would be appropriate for the United States to create either a human rights commission or for the Congress to create a select committee,” he said, “that investigates these abuses, makes recommendations for policy changes so that they don’t happen again in our country, and identifies individuals who should be held responsible and accountable for their actions.”