Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas said during an appearance at the White House press briefing Monday that President Joe Biden is exploring a legal pathway to citizenship for families of undocumented immigrants that were separated at the southern border during the Trump administration.
While Mayorkas did not go into specifics, he said that the Biden administration hopes to find a way to allow families who were separated by the Trump administration the option to stay in the country.
“We are hoping to reunite the families, either here or in their 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,” Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas, who also serves as the head of a task forced aimed at reuniting families who had been separated, did not give a timeline for when he expects the some 550 children who remain separated from their parents to be reunited with their families.
"It's going to be hard, and it's going to take time," Mayorkas said when describing his plan to undo “cruel” systems implemented by the Trump administration. "Entire systems are not rebuilt in a day, or even in a few weeks."
Mayorkas also urged people in Central America and Mexico who are planning to migrate in the coming weeks to “wait,” adding that the Biden administration is still hoping to reverse some of the policies of the pevious administration.”
“They need to wait,” Mayorkas said. “It takes time to rebuild the system from scratch.”
In recent days, the Biden administration has come under fire for erecting tent facilities in which they are currently holding children who crossed the border unaccompanied. Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that while it is a “difficult decision,” the Biden administration will continue to hold those children in custody rather than send them back to Mexico on their own.
On Monday, Mayorkas committed to “transparency” with the media regarding those facilities, but did not agree immediately to offer a tour. Instead, he said he would need to discuss concerns regarding restrictions with his staff.