A White House official said Thursday that President Joe Biden is “perfectly comfortable” with providing massive payouts to migrants who crossed illegally into the United States and were separated from alleged family members at the border during the Trump administration.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s remarks come after Biden himself said of the reported $450,000 payments, “That’s not going to happen,” when he was asked about the administration’s negotiations to settle a series of lawsuits filed on behalf of the migrants by the ACLU and other groups.
“So, 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 U.S. government,” Jean-Pierre said.
“You know, DOJ can obviously speak more to that process. The president was — what he was reacting to was the dollar figure that was mentioned — that you mentioned to him yesterday,” she told Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy, who also asked Biden the question.
Doocy asked Jean-Pierre what had changed in Biden’s mind from the remarks he made earlier in the day but she didn’t respond further.
Peter Doocy asks Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about Biden calling reports that the administration will give $450k to illegal immigrants “garbage”.
She deflects to the DOJ pic.twitter.com/BWDmqbC6Le
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 4, 2021
In late October, The Wall Street Journal reported exclusively that the DOJ along with the Departments of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services are considering payouts of nearly $1 million per family, though the final settled upon amount could change, sources said.
In addition, the agencies were planning to offer around $450,000 per person to settle lawsuits that were “filed on behalf of parents and children who say the government subjected them to lasting psychological trauma,” according to unnamed sources familiar with the talks.
“Most of the families that crossed the border illegally from Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S. included one parent and one child,” the Journal reported, citing the sources. “Many families would likely get smaller payouts, depending on their circumstances.”
But Biden pushed back on the report Thursday when he was confronted by Doocy about the payout negotiations.
“If you guys keep sending that garbage out? Yeah. But it’s not true,” Biden fired back.
“So this is a garbage report?” Doocy responded.
“Yeah. $450,000 per person — is that what you’re saying?” Biden said. “That’s not gonna happen.”
The president’s comments drew a terse response from the head of the ACLU, who reminded Biden of his campaign pledge regarding migrants.
Biden “may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero in a statement, noting further that the president was at risk of “abandoning a core campaign promise to do justice for the thousands of separated families.”
“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,” Romero noted further. “We call on President Biden to right the wrongs of this national tragedy.”
The administration’s reported negotiations with the migrants have outraged Republicans.
“It would be unthinkable to pay damages to a burglar who broke into your home for the ‘psychological trauma’ they endured during the crime,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) replied in a statement. “And yet the Biden administration wants to reward migrants who illegally entered our country with up to $450,000 each for just that reason.
“The Biden administration’s promises of citizenship and entitlement programs have already caused the worst border crisis in history — a huge cash reward will make it even worse. This is the height of insanity,” Cotton noted further.
“Pure insanity. The Biden administration is reportedly looking to pay $450,000 to illegal immigrants who knowingly broke the law. It’s a slap in the face to our law-abiding citizens who wake up, go to work, and pay their taxes,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) added.
“Biden wants to pay illegal immigrants $450,000 for their hardship while breaking our laws. For perspective, if a service member is killed in action, their next of kin gets an insurance payment of $400,000. Let that sink in,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), a Navy SEAL veteran, tweeted
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