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The Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families released an initial progress report today. The Task Force states ‘one child was reunited with their parent in March 2021 and six children were reunited in May 2021 –a small but significant number that reflects the challenge of reuniting families that were callously separated by government officials without even an adequate paper trail. In light of these challenges, the newly launched #WelcomeWithDignity campaign appreciates these first signs of progress in addressing the harms that should have never been done, but much more needs to be done to ensure families can seek asylum, stay together, and be welcomed with dignity in the United States.

Representatives from the more than 60 organizations that comprise the #WelcomeWithDignity, campaign seeking to restore and re-envision asylum in the United States, responded: 

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) member, Daniel Paz who was separated from his daughter said: “I am thankful for the opportunity to share my story. I share my story because my daughter and I want to ensure that no other families suffer the pain and trauma that is caused by family separation. I have already won asylum, but many families still live in fear of deportation after being reunited. Families who were separated at the border should know that they are not going to be deported, and that they can live in the United States without fear of persecution or deportation. We deserve to be treated humanely and with respect.”

“I am so glad that the government is prioritizing the reunification of families who were separated at the border,” said Conchita Cruz, Co-Executive Director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP). “I hope to see more families reunited very soon, and believe the Family Reunification Task Force must then turn to ensuring that all families that were separated at the border have access to work permits, a path to citizenship, and monetary compensation for the pain they suffered at the hands of government officials. It is only by having long-term security in the United States, free from fear of deportation and further separation, that these families will be able to build a life for themselves and begin to heal from the pain they have endured.”

“Today’s report shows the Biden administration is working to reunify families the previous administration deliberately targeted for separation. We welcome these advances and urge the administration to move quickly now that processes are in place to reunify families. And there must be accountability for the heinous policies leading to family separations. Although the harm to families can never be fully healed, the task force is a serious attempt to begin providing redress to families targeted by the previous administration’s incalculably cruel policy.” Denise Bell, Researcher for Refugee and Migrant Rights, Amnesty International USA

“This report on the unwinding of the profound damage the Trump administration inflicted on thousands of children and families is a first step in the right direction to identifying, reunifying, and doing right by those who were wronged,” said Paola Luisi, Director of Families Belong Together. “We welcome the progress made by the Task Force that has made a real life impact on families, but the sad reality is that hundreds of children are going to bed tonight with no idea where their parents are, almost three years after being torn apart. We will continue to support the Task Force’s work until every family is reunited, gets the resources they need to begin to heal, and are able to build their lives here, together.”

“We applaud the progress of the taskforce in beginning to reunite families cruelly separated under the Trump administration. This first taskforce report reflects the Biden administration’s commitment to repair the damage inflicted under the zero tolerance policy by ensuring that all children are reunited with their parents in the United States and have access to crucial services. We urge the taskforce to continue working with civil society organizations on both sides of the border to bring justice to all of the families separated and help ensure that family separation never happens again. At the same time, we urge President Biden to ensure a humane and fair process at our border that welcomes men, women, children and families seeking safety with dignity.” –Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Co-director, Latin America Working Group (LAWG)

Leah Chavla, senior policy advisor in the Women’s Refugee Commission’s (WRC’s) Migrant Rights and Justice Program, said: “The Task Force’s initial progress report shows a commitment to repairing the harms of family separation, which is very good to see. We are grateful for its efforts to-date and applaud the establishment of a process for families to reunite in the U.S. Going forward, we urge the Task Force to ensure this process is streamlined, transparent, and reflects the government’s obligation to redress the harm caused over the last four years. WRC will continue to advocate for permanent status for these families to ensure stability, services for medical, mental health, and other needs, and the certainty that family separation won’t happen again. We also call on the administration to harness this initial progress by expanding and accelerating its efforts to reunify and heal these families and restore faith in American justice.”

Join the movement and sign our pledge to #WelcomeWithDignity here.  

The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is comprised of more than 60 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org