Mayorkas: ‘Moral imperative’ to reunify migrant families separated at the border

At the White House press briefing on Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas called the reunification of migrant families separated at the border under Trump administration policy a “moral imperative.”

Video Transcript

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS: Let me turn to, I think, the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration. And that is the intentional separation of children from their parents. I am the chairman. I have the privilege of serving at the president's designation as the Chairman of the Family Reunification Task Force.

The first lady has driven us to action through her personal commitment to this moral imperative. And that moral imperative is to reunite the families and restore them to the fullest capacity that we, as a United States government, can do. And I should say that we are not doing it alone.

We are working closely with counsel for the separated family members. We are doing it along with the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. I spoke with the foreign minister of each of those countries this past Friday. We are doing it with non-governmental organizations. And we intend to and will shortly harness the capabilities, resources, and desire of the private sector.

This is not only an all of government, but all of society effort to do what is right. We are hoping to reunite the families, either here or in the country of origin. We hope to be in a position to give them the election. And if, in fact, they seek to reunite here in the United States, we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States and to address the family needs, so we are acting as restoratively as possible.

I am very proud and excited to announce that we have hired Michelle Brane as the Executive Director of the Family Reunification Task Force. She began late last week. Most recently, she served as a Senior Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program of the Women's Refugee Commission.

She has dedicated her entire career to human rights, and she is a an extraordinary talent that will bring justice and results to this effort, along with the resources of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and every other member of the federal government that has resources to bring to bear.

It is because of the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security and across the federal enterprise that we will dig out of the cruelty of the past administration, and we will rebuild our nation's asylum system and all of our humanitarian programs of which we have been historically so proud as a leader in the world.