President Joe Biden on Wednesday disputed a report that migrant families separated at the U.S. southern border during the Trump administration would be getting payments of $450,000 each under a settlement agreement.
“That’s not going to happen,” the president said at a press conference at the White House.
In response to a Fox News reporter’s question on the proposed settlement, Biden said the report of the payments — first published in The Wall Street Journal — was “garbage.”
“$450,000 per person? Is that what you’re saying?” Mr. Biden said when asked by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy about the payments. “That’s not going to happen.”
Doocy pressed Biden on the report, asking if such payments were to happen if it “might incentivize” immigrants to attempt to enter America illegally.
“If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah, but it’s not true,” Biden explained.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero contradicted Biden after the news conference, saying Biden may not have been fully briefed on the workings of the proposed settlement.
“President Biden may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department as it carefully deliberated and considered the crimes committed against thousands of families separated from their children as an intentional governmental policy,” Romero said.
“But if he follows through on what he said, the president is abandoning a core campaign promise to do justice for the thousands of separated families. We call on President Biden to right the wrongs of this national tragedy.”
The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit in 2019 seeking damages for families affected by the separation policy, according to Politico.
Eleven Republican senators on Monday sent a letter to the president asking him to reject the potential payouts.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, called the proposed payments “absurd.”
“Honestly, this absurd idea feels like a satirical policy proposal that Republicans would have invented to make a parody out of the radical left. Oh, and the next thing you know, they’ll be sending out million-dollar checks to illegal immigrants,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
According to the original report in the Journal, payments of up to $450,000 would be issued to family members who were separated at the southern border as part of a policy implemented by Donald Trump’s administration.
The money, according to the Journal, would be issued “to resolve lawsuits filed on behalf of parents and children who say the government subjected them to lasting psychological trauma.”
The Journal went on to say that the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services are “considering payments that could amount to close to $1 million a family,” though final payment amounts could change as some “families would likely get smaller payouts, depending on their circumstances.”
According to the ACLU, the settlement could affect around 5,000 families. The Journal reports that 940 suits have already been filed against the federal government over the separation policy.
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