(CNN)The Biden administration announced Friday it is terminating a Trump-era agreement that it said discouraged sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children, like parents or relatives, to come forward due to fear their information would be shared with immigration enforcement agencies.
The move comes amid a surge of unaccompanied children arriving at the border, which is overwhelming border facilities and has officials scrambling to accommodate them.
Children who are apprehended at the border are transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, where case managers work with them to relocate them in the US with a sponsor. But a 2018 agreement between HHS and the Department of Homeland Security allowed information obtained from potential sponsors to be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — which a Biden administration official said created a “chilling effect” where family members or sponsors were afraid of coming forward.
Friday’s move ending that policy means there would not be any immigration enforcement consequences for a family member or sponsor who looking to be united with an unaccompanied child in the government’s care.
“We are a child welfare agency, we are not an immigration enforcement agency, and this makes really clear that this administration prioritizes uniting a child with their family member or sponsor,” a Biden administration official told reporters on a conference call under the condition they not be named.
“It sends a really strong signal that Office of Refugee Resettlement, Health and Human Services are not involved in immigration enforcement,” the official added.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.