The administration says that it doesn’t want to turn them back and to dangerous conditions, and doesn’t want to send them to someone in the US who has not been properly vetted – leading to crowded detention centers at the border.
Sources told the outlet that if chosen, Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice programs at the Women’s Refugee Commission, would oversee the task force’s day-to-day operations as it works to reunite nearly 550 children who were separated from their parents at the US southern border under the Trump Administration in 2018 and in pilot programs preceding the short-lived policy’s implementation.
Brané’s organization, the Women’s Refugee Committee is already part of a steering committee that a federal judge has tasked with finding the parents of the hundreds of children still separated from their families.
Brané would be a welcome leader to the inter-agency task force which is mostly made up of government officials, NBC News reported.
Around 2,000 kids separated under the formal policy have already been reunited with their parents, and 600 more are either with sponsors in the US or have already reached legal age, Felipe De La Hoz reported for Insider.
Though Trump ended his “zero-tolerance” policy in June 2018 after public outcry, the Biden Administration has inherited the court-ordered effort to reunify those still separated nearly three years later.
The process of reunifying families is tedious and delicate work, requiring a combination of combing through government data and deploying on-the-ground connections, De La Hoz wrote for Insider.
One source familiar with the matter told NBC News that Brané’s role would be “essential to the success of the task force,” which is chaired by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Michelle Brané is widely recognized as a leading expert on protection of at risk children and families displaced by violence and persecution in Central America. I can’t imagine anyone else who would be better for the job of leading the effort to right the wrongs inflicted on families separated at the border by the Trump administration,” Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense told NBC News.