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Biden administration calls for permanent residency pathway for separated migrant families

It’s been a year since the Biden administration created a task force to help reunite thousands of migrant families separated under former President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy. Now, the administration says it wants legislation to help provide a permanent solution for families in the U.S.

Under zero tolerance, all migrants, even those seeking asylum, could be criminally charged if they crossed at any part of the border that wasn’t a port of entry.  

More than 5,600 families were separated because of the policy.

This week the Biden administration said the task force has reunited 130 families so far and 400 more are in the process. But 1,200 families are still separated. 

This week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas  told NBC the administration is advocating for congressional action to provide families legal immigration status. 

In an email, a DHS spokesperson said the task force and USCIS have already established a process that allows reunited families who arrive in the U.S. to receive work authorization for three years under humanitarian parole.

Though families can apply for renewal of that status, the spokesperson said congressional legislation grant families a more permanent pathway to residency. 

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.