First lady Jill Biden is expected to take an active role in the Biden administration’s planned task force to reunite children with their parents who were separated at the border.
Three anonymous sources familiar with the plans confirmed Biden’s role in the project to CNN.
“As the first lady remarked on a ‘Charla’ with young Latinos earlier this week, her chief of staff, Ambassador Julissa Reynoso, will monitor the federal reunification effort given her background as a lawyer,” Biden spokesman Michael LaRosa told CNN Wednesday.
Biden’s involvement in the task force will bring public attention to the continued mission of reuniting children with their parents.
President Joe Biden is expected to formally announce the task force on Friday, NPR reported.
The administration formally rescinded the “zero tolerance” policy earlier this week that led to family separations, but the move was mostly symbolic.
The Trump administration had largely stopped separating families in 2018 and reunited thousands of families following a judge’s orders.
According to the latest court filing, lawyers are still unable to reach the parents of 611 children who were separated from their families between 2017 and 2018, CNN reported.
The task force will be an interagency effort across the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the State Department, according to NBC News.
Sources told NBC News that the task force will also investigate what led to the separations, though any investigations into the officials responsible for the policy will be left to the Justice Department.
Biden was expected to establish the task force on his first day as president, and it is unclear what has caused the delay.
“Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated,” Biden said during a presidential debate last year, NPR reported. “It’s criminal.”
A White House official said the first lady was impacted by her trip to the Matamoros, Mexico, refugee camp in December, according to CNN.
“It’s not who we are as Americans. We are a welcoming nation, but that’s not the message that we’re sending at the border,” Jill Biden said after spending time in the camp across the Texas border.
“We’re saying, ‘Stop. Don’t come in.'”
Jill Biden’s direct involvement with the task force will be in contrast to Melania Trump’s role during the Trump administration.
Trump made her first visit to the border in June 2018 and called the separation of families “unacceptable” and “heartbreaking,” but her time there was largely ignored with the exception of the controversial jacket she wore during her visit.
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