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Parents of 611 children separated in 2018 under Trump's 'zero tolerance' policy are still missing

A San Diego federal court filing revealed that lawyers still have not located the parents of 611 children who were separated from them in 2018 under President Donald Trump's 'zero tolerance' policy.

According to La Opinión, the court document filed last Wednesday also indicated that the parents of 392 families had been deported to their native countries after they were separated from their sons and daughters by United State immigration agents in their botched attempts to illegally cross the Mexico-United States border.

The filing was presented before U.S District Judge Dana Sabraw at the United States District Court for the Southern California and shows that at least 201 parents could be living in the United States at the moment.

The litigation also indicates that the Trump Administration does not know the whereabouts of at least 18 children who were taken away from their parents at the souther international border crossing

President-elect Joe Biden, who will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, promised leading up to the election that he would create a special task force on Day One of his administration to reunite the separated parents and children. 

Biden is also poised to introduce an immigration bill on his first day of office that hopes to to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to present a bill on his first day of office Wednesday that will provide a path to U.S. citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants who were in the United States as of January 1, 2021

A San Diego federal court filing revealed that lawyers still have not located the parents of 611 children who were separated from them in 2018 under President Donald Trump's 'zero tolerance' policy. File photo from January 22, 2020 shows David Xol-Cholom, of Guatemala, hugging his son Byron at Los Angeles International Airport as they reunite after being separated during the Trump administration's wide-scale separation of immigrant families

The filing was presented before U.S District Judge Dana Sabraw at the United States District Court for the Southern California and shows that at least 201 parents could be living in the United States at the moment. File photo from December 11, 2018  shows an asylum-seeking boy from Central America running down a hallway after arriving from an immigration detention center to a shelter in San Diego

The filing came a day before a government watchdog report found that top-ranking officials at the Justice Department in PresidentTrump were fully away that the 'zero tolerance' border policy would result in family separations but pressed on with prosecutions even as other agencies became overwhelmed with migrants.

The report from the inspector general for the Justice Department found that leadership failed to prepare to implement the policy or manage the fallout, which resulted in more than 3,000 family separations during 'zero tolerance' and caused lasting emotional damage to children who were taken from their parents at the border. 

Trump's policy was enacted April 6, 2018 and was widely condemned by world leaders, religious groups and lawmakers in the U.S. as cruel. 

The executive order was issued without warning to other federal agencies that would have to manage the policy, including the U.S. Marshals Service and Health and Human Services. It was halted June 20, 2018.

The 'zero tolerance' policy meant that any adult caught crossing the border illegally would be prosecuted for illegal entry. Because children cannot be jailed with their family members, families were separated and children were taken into custody by Health and Human Services, which manages unaccompanied children at the border. 

The policy was a colossal mess; there was no system created to reunite children with their families. The watchdog report found that it led to a $227 million funding shortfall. 

Trump's policy was enacted April 6, 2018 and was widely condemned by world leaders, religious groups and lawmakers in the U.S. as cruel. File image from July 17, 2019 shows Border Patrol agent at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Donna, Texas, holding a migrant child who was intercepted after attempting to enter the country with a male individual who lied and said the child his son

The 'zero tolerance' policy meant that any adult caught crossing the border illegally would be prosecuted for illegal entry. Because children cannot be jailed with their family members, families were separated and children were taken into custody. File image from July 2, 2019 shows detained migrant families at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas

Biden is set to introduce legislation to reunite families ripped apart by the 'zero tolerance' policy after his inauguration, according to a person familiar with the legislation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

The bill places Biden on track to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. 

It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years, but it fails to include the traditional trade-off of enhanced border security favored by many Republicans, putting passage in a narrowly divided Congress in doubt.  

Under the legislation, those living in the U.S. as of January 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. From there, it's a three-year path to naturalization, if they decide to pursue citizenship.

For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. 

The bill is not as comprehensive as the last major immigration overhaul proposed when Biden was vice president during the Obama administration.

For example, it does not include a robust border security element, but rather calls for coming up with strategies. Nor does it create any new guest worker or other visa programs.

It does address some of the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States, and provides grants for workforce development and English language learning. 

During the Democratic primary, Biden consistently named immigration action as one of his first-day priorities, pointing to the range of executive powers he could invoke to reverse Trump's policies.

Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and enough other GOP senators to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades.

As a candidate, Biden said the Obama administration went too far in its aggressive deportations.

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