- The Biden administration has inherited the task of reuniting migrant families separated under Trump.
- NBC News reported that the White House is likely to put a refugee advocate in charge of the effort.
- Michelle Brané would be a welcome leader to the task force which is mostly made up of government officials.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
In a move likely to please the immigration community, the Biden Administration is expected to name a refugee advocate as executive director of the task force charged with reunifying migrant families that were split up under former President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” family separation policy, according to NBC News.
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.
Insider reported earlier this month that nonprofit groups were specifically put in charge of the effort because government representatives could not necessarily be trusted.
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.
But late last year, ACLU lawyers said they hadn’t been able to contact the parents of 545 migrant children, and lawyers estimated that the administration had already deported two-thirds of those parents back to Central America without their children.
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.
Brané declined to comment to NBC News.