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How Have U.S. Border Policies Affected Migrant Families?

Updated May 17, 2024
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Migrant families attempting to cross the border from Mexico to the United States dream of a new home, but recently, many of those dreams have turned into nightmares. In November 2020, lawyers working with some of the families said there were over 660 children who were separated from their families while attempting to come to America and now remain in U.S. custody because their parents cannot be located. The children range in age, but roughly 20 percent have not reached their fifth birthday.

Many of the separations took place during a "zero-tolerance" policy imposed by the Trump administration between April and June 2018, but most occurred while the administration was testing a pilot program in the El Paso area. In large part, the difficulty in reuniting the families stems from a lack of basic information being documented during the process. In many cases, U.S. agents do not have phone numbers to call.

Incoming U.S. President Joe Biden has vowed to work to reunite the children with their families, although whether the families will then be allowed to seek asylum in the United States has not been made clear.

Troubles at the border:

  • The U.S.-Mexico border is 1,951 miles (3,140 km) long and considered the busiest border in the world.

  • There are now more than 700 miles (1,127 km) of wall dividing America from Mexico, and more than 19,000 border patrol agents.

  • Ninety-seven percent of all illegal U.S.-Mexico border crossings take place in areas without barriers.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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