The White House is reportedly considering paying $450,000 to every illegal immigrant separated from their families at the U.S-Mexico border under the Trump administration's “zero tolerance” policy in 2018. If passed, taxpayers will be required to foot the bill.
The Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services are seriously considering the exorbitant payments to settle lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other social justice organizations on behalf of families that crossed into the United States from Mexico illegally, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The publication reports that the average demand in each lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other organizations adds up to around $3.4 million per family, while the settlement offer being proposed by the Biden administration amounts to roughly $450,000 per person. It is the equivalent of $1 million per family.
The ACLU has reportedly identified around 5,500 children affected by the Trump-era policy, which social justice advocates say caused both physical and mental trauma in children who were separated from their parents. 940 claims have been filed by families that migrated illegally into the United States.
The total cost to taxpayers could approach $1 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“The Biden administration is correct to provide relief to the children and families affected by the government’s horrific practice of family separation,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. “Their suffering is something they will always live with, and it is a deep moral stain on our country. We need to make it right, and this includes not simply any monetary support, but also a path to remain here. This is what is right and fair.”
The ACLU did not disclose how far along the settlement talks have progressed, but lawyers on both sides of the aisle had told courts overseeing the family separation cases that they hope to reach a final agreement by the end of next month.
The amount of potential payouts has raised tensions within the Biden administration, with at least one lawyer threatening to remove his name from the case due to his disagreement with the size of the payout, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Congressional Republicans, who have called for a return to “common sense” Trump-era policies on immigration, have accused President Biden of being soft on illegal immigration and reacted angrily to the news.
“It’s unthinkable to pay a burglar who broke into your home for the ‘psychological trauma’ they endured during the crime,” wrote Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). “Yet the Biden admin wants to reward migrants who illegally entered our country with up to $450,000 each for just that reason. Insanity.”
“Biden wants to pay illegal immigrants $450,000 for their hardship while breaking our laws,” wrote Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). “For perspective, if a service member is killed in action, their next of kin gets an insurance payment of $400,000. Let that sink in.”