On Feb. 2, President Joe Biden signed an executive order creating a task force to “reunite children separated from their families at the United States-Mexico border” and combat the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” policies on immigration. Additionally, it revokes the executive order former President Donald Trump signed June 20, 2018, that allowed Congress to separate families at the border, taking thousands of children from their parents.
The Interagency Task Force created by the order will be headed by Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security. The task force is charged with identifying all children separated from their families at the southern border between Jan. 20, 2017, and Jan. 20. of this year to reunify them with their families “to the greatest extent possible.”
As a result of these orders, thousands of unaccompanied migrant children arrived at the U.S. – Mexico border. “We are seeing minors up and down the line. In South Texas, we are being hammered,” a Homeland Security official told the New York Times.
Due to the high number of children arriving at the southern border, the Biden administration reopened a tent facility to house migrants temporarily. While this housing is free from the “cages” used by the Trump administration, there are still concerns regarding the treatment of children in these types of temporary facilities.
On Mar. 18, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021. These bills aim to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children (“DREAMers”) and undocumented farmers. These bills address immigration in a more narrow manner than the immigration plan Biden is calling for. “I urge Congress to come together to find long term solutions to our entire immigration system to…tackle the root causes of migration and legalize the undocumented population in the United States,” said Biden.
The Biden administration has succeeded in improving conditions for unaccompanied minors at the southern border, but this does not mean the administration is done reforming immigration.
Through Teen Lenses: How should the U.S. handle immigration?
“From my point of view, the U.S. should have restrictions on who can and cannot enter the country. It is important to continue to maintain the security of the nation with a solid immigration policy. However, these restrictions should not be biased against people of certain races or nationalities. Additionally, in light of recent events, these restrictions should not be enforced brutally like separating children from parents at the borders and should instead be carried out so that basic human rights are not violated.” Charan Sattiraju, 15, Sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Chantilly, Virginia
“The U.S. is a large melting pot of people from many countries, and that is part of what makes this country so amazing. By this logic, we should make it so more people are able to come into our country; however, the argument on the other side would be that it would sacrifice the safety of the people already in the United States. However, to that, I say the immigrants are able to raise the GDP of America.” Henry Hladky, 15, Sophomore at George Mason High School, Falls Church, Virginia
“I think the USA should keep closed borders but make it easier for immigrants to become citizens. To make it easier, I think the USA needs to make it easier to obtain a green card.” Max Saaty, 16, Sophomore at George Mason High School, Falls Church, Virginia