National Security

Biden administration considering payments to migrant families separated at the border under Trump: report

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The Biden administration is weighing the possibility of paying migrant families separated at the border under the Trump administration roughly $450,000 per person, reported The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security (DHS), and Health and Human Services (HHS) are considering settlements in lawsuits filed on behalf of those families, which could result in payments of nearly $1 million a family, the people briefed on the matter told the newspaper. The agencies are coordinating the price tag of possible payments.

Sources told Journal that payments depend on the circumstances of the families, however, and that many would likely receive smaller amounts.

Migrant families have filed close to 950 claims, according to the Journal’s sources. It is unclear how many claims are expected to be filed, though the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) cited government figures indicating that 5,500 children had been separated from their families under the Trump administration, according to the newspaper. The ACLU is representing families in one of the lawsuits.

It is not immediately clear when a decision was anticipated to be reached, nor when payments would be issued following the settlements of various claims. 

“The Biden administration is correct to provide relief to the children and families affected by the government’s horrific practice of family separation,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said in a statement. 

“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,” Grant added. 

The lawsuits stem from a “zero tolerance” policy instituted in 2018 under then-President Trump, which separated families at the border after they crossed into the U.S. from Mexico seeking asylum.

The controversial policy was scrapped in June, but lawsuits soon ensued, with immigrant families saying they experienced psychological trauma as a result of the policy. The Trump administration has addressed some of these lawsuits. 

The Hill has reached out to HHS, DHS and DOJ for comment. 

Updated at 7:50 p.m.

Tags biden administration Department of Health and Human Services Department of Homeland Security Department of Justice Donald Trump family separation Trump administration zero tolerance policy

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