First Lady Jill Biden pledged, right after her husband Joe was sworn in as president, that she would help lead a task force given the mission to help child migrants who had been separated from their parents during Trump’s years in office with their relatives here in the U.S., but the activists who planned to work with her office are saying she’s “backed away” and “disappeared” from the effort.
Forbes reported just a week after Biden was sworn in that the First Lady would “be taking part in seeing that the remaining children” who had been separated under Trump’s immigration policies would “find their families.”
“Under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, more than 5,400 children were separated from their families after entering the U.S. without documentation,” Forbes noted. “Since then, the policy has been overturned, and lawyers have stepped in to aid in the reunification efforts. Still, though, without a consistent paper trail, those involved have been unsuccessful in reaching the remaining children’s families.”
“Now,” the outlet continued, “First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will be taking a special interest in the task at hand. As stated by the report, three sources close to the reunification planning efforts have confirmed that the First Lady, alongside her East Wing staff, will have an ‘active role’ in the process.”
Jill Biden decided on the plan after visiting a camp for asylum seekers blocked by Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy, which required migrants to await asylum hearings outside of the United States. Biden claimed to have been “visibly shocked” by the situation, and told reporters that the conditions were “heartbreaking to see.” She served food to the camp’s residents and passed out Christmas toys to the children of migrant families.
Now, though, the White House tells Politico Jill Biden has “no formal role” in any task force to reunite separated migrant children with their families, and immigration activists say Biden has “backed away” from their efforts.
“It would be enormously helpful if Dr. Biden brought her experience to bear on reuniting these families because there is a lot of work to be done and, thus far, there has been no concrete progress,” an ACLU lawyer said to Politico. “We hoped that the task force would be ready on day one and families would have already been reunited but it looks like this is going to be a slow process.”
Some folks are saying that this issue has become too politically hot for the First Lady to be able to take an active role in it.
“I’m a little worried it’s deprioritized or viewed as politically sensitive,” one person told Politico.
“The work of the task force is being led by the Department of Homeland Security,” a spokesperson stated. “As the task force is an interagency task force, with members comprised of representatives from the relevant federal government agencies, the First Lady does not have any formal role.”
Everyone seems to be remaining silent on the border crisis, likely fearing political reprisals for any answers or responses they might have.
What a failure of leadership.