U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas deliver remarks on climate resilience at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, on August 1, 2022. File Photo by Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Nearly 1,000 children, representing a quarter of those known to have been separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border under the previous Trump administration, have yet to be reunited with their parents, the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.
The news came as the Department of Homeland Security marks the second anniversary of its task force charged with making those families whole.
The Family Reunification Task Force was launched via executive order on Feb. 2, 2020, by President Joe Biden, who was making good on a campaign promise to form such a working party to unite migrant families separated under his predecessor's controversial hard-line "zero tolerance" immigration policy.
The task force has identified to date 3,924 children who were separated between Jan. 20, 2017, and Jan. 20, 2021, the day Biden was inaugurated and a week before Trump's policy was officially rescinded.
In an update Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security said that in the past two years, the task force has reunited more than 600 children, for a total of 2,926. Still, 998 remain separated.
Of those children yet to be reunited, 148 are in the process of reunification and 183 families have been informed of the opportunity to reunify via a contracted non-governmental organization.
"We understand that our critical work is not finished," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
"The task force continues to coordinate outreach to families who were separated to ensure they are afforded the opportunity to reunite in the United States and receive critically needed behavioral health services to address the trauma they suffered."
According to the department fact sheet, 735 families have been provided with behavioral health case management services and 385 families with behavioral health assessments and treatment.
The task force said that the number of identified families separated under the Trump policy continues to rise as they come forward, adding that when it first launched the information it had on the families was "patchwork at best" and they had to piece together segmented documentation.
"We have made great strides over the past two years in reunifying separated families and fulfilling its mandate," the department said. "This critical work will continue until all separated families that can be found have been provided the opportunity to reunify."