Biden administration could pay $450K per victim of Trump’s border separation

Payments to compensate families separated at the southern U.S.-Mexico are reportedly under consideration.

President Joe Biden‘s administration is reportedly considering payments of around $450,000 per person to compensate victims separated from their families during the former White House’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. 

These payments could resolve the many lawsuits that have been filed against the U.S. government by parents and children who were subjected to the traumatic separations begun by the administration of impeached former president Donald Trump

Central American migrants in an El Paso, Texas, shelter receive Red Cross blankets before sleeping on cots in May 2019. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A report from The Wall Street Journal cites sources familiar with the matter from various governmental agencies — including the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services — who noted that the payments could amount to close to $1 million per family, though those numbers could change. 

The number of families entitled to the payments is unclear. ACLU officials have identified more than 5,000 children who were separated at the border. However, The WSJ notes that only about 940 claims have been filed thus far. Still, the payout could be upwards of $1 billion.

The crisis occurred in 2018 when Trump enacted a zero-tolerance policy at the southern U.S.-Mexico border that separated parents from their children. The separation became known for “kids in cages,” after images of children wrapped in foil heating blankets and sleeping in poor conditions riveted the nation. 

The ACLU alleges that many families, particularly children, suffered long-term mental and physical health problems as a result. 

“President Biden has agreed that the family separation policy is a historic moral stain on our nation that must be fully remedied,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s immigrant-rights project and a lead negotiator on one of the lawsuits.

“That remedy,” Gelernt contends, “must include not only meaningful monetary compensation but a pathway to remain in the country.”

Republicans are opposed to the payments. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton maintains that Democratic-supported programs created the allure for migrants to want to come to the United States. 

In addition to the financial settlement discussions, the Department of Health and Human Services is still working to reunite families with their children. As many as 200 families are still in the process of reunification, and will be granted temporary humanitarian protection that will allow them to remain in the country for three years. 

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