Biden: Families Separated at Border Won't Get $450K

'That's not going to happen,' he says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 29, 2021 7:26 AM CDT
Updated Nov 4, 2021 8:07 AM CDT
Feds Are in Talks to Compensate Families Separated at Border
In this June 17, 2018 photo provided by US Customs and Border Protection, people taken into custody sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas.   (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP, File)

(Newser) Update: President Biden says there is no way families separated at the border under the Trump administration will be getting compensation of $450,000 per person. "That's not going to happen," the president said at a White House briefing Wednesday, per the New York Times. He described reports of the payments as "garbage," though sources told multiple outlets last week that the Justice Department was in settlement talks with lawyers for affected families. ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said that while Biden may not have been fully briefed on negotiations, he will be abandoning "a core campaign promise to do justice for the thousands of separated families" if he follows through on his remarks. Our original story from Oct. 28 follows:

The Justice Department is in talks to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to each child and parent who was separated under a Trump-era practice of splitting families at the border, a person familiar with discussions to settle lawsuits said Thursday. The Wall Street Journal first reported that the government was considering payments around $450,000 to each person affected. A person familiar with the talks told the AP that figure was under consideration but has changed, though not dramatically. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private. The discussions continue, and there is no guarantee the two sides will strike an agreement.

About 5,500 children were split from their parents under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, under which parents were separated from their children to face criminal prosecution for crossing the border illegally, according to court filings in a federal case in San Diego. Inadequate tracking systems caused many to be apart for an extended time. The payments are intended to compensate for the psychological trauma. Attorneys for the families are also seeking permanent legal status in the United States for those separated under the practice, which a judge formally halted in June 2018, six days after Trump stopped it amid an international backlash.

The settlement talks involve several law firms. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing parents in the San Diego case. The National Immigration Litigation Alliance represents five mothers and their children who were separated for more than two months, including four children who were sent to holding facilities in New York. A federal judge in Arizona denied the government’s bid to dismiss the case last year. "No amount of money can compensate for the amount of pain and suffering these parents and children endured under this unconscionable and unprecedented policy," said Trina Realmuto, the alliance's executive director.

(Read more border separations stories.)

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