Story at a glance

  • The president denied that the federal government was considering giving immigrant families separated at the U.S. Mexico border close to $1 million.
  • It was previously reported that discussions of financial payments were ongoing and would be part of a settlement package for multiple lawsuits the federal government is facing.
  • The Office of the Inspector General previously found the Trump administration’s Department of Justice unprepared to manage and implement its zero-tolerance policy.

President Biden has rejected the idea that migrant families separated at the U.S. Southern border will receive monetary compensation.

The president, while speaking about authorizing COVID-19 vaccines for children on Wednesday, said, “it’s not going to happen,” when answering a question about whether or not his administration would be moving forward with financial compensation for families separated at the border under the Trump administration in 2018.

Last week, according to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services were discussing possible payments of close to $1 million per immigrant family that were separated at the border. Sources told WSJ that around $450,000 a person was being considered, but could change depending on each family’s circumstances. 

Anthony Romero, executive director of The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is representing multiple families in a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, responded to Biden’s latest comments on Wednesday by saying, “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,” according to The New York Times

Romero continued by saying, “We respectfully remind President Biden that he called these actions ‘criminal’ in a debate with then-President Trump, and campaigned on remedying and rectifying the lawlessness of the Trump administration.”


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Since assuming office, the Biden administration created the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families and its latest progress report, released in September, confirmed it had reunified 50 children separated from their parents and provided access to behavioral health services. Another 2,171 children have been reunified through a court order and from the efforts of non-governmental organizations. 

However, the same report confirmed 1,727 children have not yet been reunified with their families, accounting for 33 percent of all those identified as separated from their parents by DHS under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy. 

The Office of the Inspector General conducted a review of the DOJ’s zero tolerance policy and found that under former attorney general Jeff Sessions, the agency “failed to effectively prepare for, or manage, the implementation of the zero tolerance policy.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 4. 


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Published on Oct 28, 2021