Despite persistent signals that they are shifting away from what they called “inhumane” Trump-era policies towards migrants, the Biden administration admits it continues the controversial practice of family separation at the border.
Officials say that when a migrant child arrives with a relative, federal authorities separate them for the purpose of confirming that the adult they are with is, in fact, a relative. The purpose of the approach is to crack down on human trafficking.
The children are legally classified as “unaccompanied minors” and placed in detention centers until a legal custodian can be located or appointed. Given the current massive influx of illegal immigrants at the border, the waiting times for those children have risen dramatically.
Though the Biden administration claims their policies are distinct from those of their predecessors, many immigrant advocacy groups say it is a distinction without a difference.
“It really does look and feel in many ways like a parent-child separation,” Lisa Koop, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center, said. “The trauma of the separation is very similar.”