President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE on Wednesday denied his administration is considering paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to each migrant separated from their family under the Trump administration's zero tolerance border policy.
"That’s not gonna happen," Biden told reporters when asked about the reported plan.
The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that the administration was contemplating a payment of roughly $450,000 per person for separated migrant parents and children. Multiple news outlets later confirmed the Journal's reporting.
The potential payments would come as the government faces numerous lawsuits from families separated under the Trump administration's policy, which saw thousands of children taken away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Biden on Wednesday if the payments could encourage migrants to flock to the U.S.
"If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah," Biden said. "But it’s not true."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a statement argued Biden would be turning his back on a core campaign promise to provide a measure of justice for those separated under the Trump policy.
“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," ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement, urging Biden to "right the wrongs of this national tragedy."
GOP lawmakers have chastised the Biden administration over reports of the potential payouts.
"Honestly, this absurd idea feels like a satirical policy proposal that Republicans would have invented to make a parody out of the radical left," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Monday.
However, legal experts told The Washington Post that settling with the families could prove less costly than allowing the cases to play out in court, where more details about the government's harsh treatment of migrants could also emerge.
Biden at the start of his presidency formed a task force to reunited families that were still separated as a result of the Trump-era policy. The head of the task force, Michelle Brane, told "60 Minutes" last month that the group has reunited 52 families since February.
—Updated at 5:57 p.m.