Biden: Migrant families separated under Trump ‘deserve’ compensation
President Biden on Saturday forcefully supported the idea to compensate migrant families separated under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy, clarifying that his issue days earlier was with the dollar amount that had been reported.
“Now here’s the thing. If in fact because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you coming across the border, whether it was legal or illegal, and you lost your child,” Biden said, wagging a finger and raising his voice. “You lost your child. It’s gone. You deserve some kind of compensation, no matter what the circumstance. What that will be, I have no idea.”
Biden’s impassioned comments came during a press conference on the passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. He was questioned about his remarks earlier in the week when he was asked about reports that his administration was preparing to pay separated families up to $450,000 per individual, which Biden said was “not gonna happen.”
The president on Saturday said he was specifically referring to the dollar amount that had been reported, not the concept of compensating separated families entirely.
The payments would come as part of settlements with separated families suing the government over treatment during the Trump era. Under the zero tolerance policy, thousands of children were separated from their parents and placed in shelters while the adults were prosecuted.
The White House on Thursday said the government would be willing to settle out of court with those families.
“If it saves taxpayer dollars and puts the disastrous history of the previous administration’s use of zero tolerance and family separation behind us, the president is perfectly comfortable with the Department of Justice settling with the individuals and families who are currently in litigation with the United States government,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
GOP lawmakers have chastised the Biden administration over reports of the potential payouts.
However, some 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 reunite 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.