Outrageous US immigration policy deserves compensation, Biden

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US President Joe Biden has strongly backed compensation for immigrant families separated at the border under Donald Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance US immigration policy’. According to Biden, the previous administration’s ‘outrageous behavior’ warrants cash payments for those affected.


However, Biden has stopped short of disclosing the amount of money that those affected will receive. The proposed move has drawn heavy criticism from several quarters, most notably the Republican Party.

Nevertheless, President Biden is adamant that immigrants affected deserve to be compensated. He said: “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, you lost your child! ... you deserve some kind of compensation no matter what the circumstance.”


Zero-tolerance policy 

Former US President Donald Trump introduced his controversial zero-tolerance policy in 2018, with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) initiating criminal prosecutions against every adult who crossed the US border with Mexico illegally. However, the policy was swiftly ended amid widespread opposition.

The policy saw thousands of families separated at the border, including many with infants – some of whom were only a few months old – because US immigration laws state that children cannot be kept in federal jail with their parents.


Hundreds of thousands of dollars

According to CNN, a source close to the matter said that migrant families who were separated by force at the US-Mexico border under the policy, could be entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of a settlement that is currently being negotiated between the DoJ and the lawyers representing the families.

Biden’s comments come after he was forced to deny a report published by The Wall Street Journal, which claimed that the federal government was considering payments of $450,000 per person affected by the zero-tolerance US immigration policy.

In 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, seeking damages for the toll that separations took on families. Meanwhile, lawyers representing the families have filed separate claims.


Settlement figures exaggerated

The DoJ said that the settlement figures doing the rounds in the media are ‘higher than anywhere that a settlement can realistically land’. Responding to media reports that pay outs could hit up to $1 million per person, Biden said: “That’s not gonna happen. You guys keep sending that garbage out, but it’s not true.”

Under the policy, more than 3,000 children were taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border. However, it’s unclear how many will be entitled to a payout for the trauma they suffered.

Despite intense criticism over plans to payout to migrants affected by the policy, Biden has defended his stance.

In a statement from White House deputy press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, she said: “The President is perfectly comfortable with the Department of Justice settling with the individuals and families who are currently in litigation with the US government.”

Meanwhile, Republicans have described the proposed settlement payments as ‘disastrous’ and will introduce a bill to block them.

In a post on Twitter, Republican Nicole Malliotakis wrote: “Once again, [Biden] either lied or has no idea what’s going on. Americans don’t bust their asses & pay taxes so Democrats can give their $ to those who disrespect our borders and break our laws.”


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