Republicans slam Biden admin. plan to pay over $1B to illegal immigrant families separated at border

Illegal immigration, border
José, 27, with his son José Daniel, 6, is searched by US Customs and Border Protection Agent Frank Pino, May 16, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. Father and son spent a month trekking across Mexico from Guatemala. - About 1,100 migrants from Central America and other countries are crossing into the El Paso border sector each day. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Public Information Officer Frank Pino, says that Border Patrol resources and personnel are being stretched by the ongoing migrant crisis, and that the real targets of the Border Patrol are slipping through the cracks. |

Republicans in Congress are demanding answers to a report that the Biden administration is planning to give nearly half a million dollars to each person who was separated from a family member after they entered the U.S. illegally and were detained by Border Patrol.

Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., along with 43 of his Republican colleagues in the United States House of Representatives authored a letter to President Joe Biden Friday expressing “severe concerns regarding recent reports that [the administration is] in discussions to offer illegal immigrants that unlawfully crossed the U.S. border in 2018 roughly $450,000 per person in compensation.”

“Promising tens of thousands of dollars to those who unlawfully entered the United States would not only reward criminal behavior, but it would surely send a message to the world that our borders are open, and our rule of law will not be enforced,” they added. “Compare this hefty compensation sum [$450,000] to the 2019 average median American household income of $68,703. Furthermore, compare it to the maximum payout from a SGLI life insurance policy for military members, which is $400,000.”

The letter was in response to Thursday’s Wall Street Journal report documenting the Biden administration’s plans to give approximately $450,000 to each person who was separated from a family member under a temporary Trump administration policy pertaining to people who entered the U.S. illegally. 

The payments are designed to resolve lawsuits seeking monetary compensation for about 5,500 children of illegal immigrants who claim to have suffered complications such as heat exhaustion, malnutrition, and a lack of medical attention as a result of federal immigration policy.

People familiar with the development predict that fewer illegal immigrants will receive payments from the government because only around 940 claims have been filed so far. While most families will likely receive about $1 million, some of the lawsuits are seeking payments as high as $3.4 million. The U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services will administer the payments, which could exceed $1 billion altogether.

The family separations the lawsuits intended to resolve stem from a temporary “zero-tolerance” policy implemented by the Trump administration in the spring of 2018 to combat the problem of illegal immigration. Under the zero-tolerance policy, all illegal border crossers, including those seeking asylum, were subject to detention and criminal charges.

Former President Donald Trump later reversed the policy, which critics derided for detaining illegal immigrant children and their parents in separate detention facilities, in an executive order after weeks of pushback. Adult illegal immigrants prosecuted by the Department of Justice are required to be detained in federal criminal detention centers that do not permit children. Therefore, if an adult illegal immigrant brought a child with him or her, the child would have to be placed elsewhere.

The Trump administration also cited the family separation policy as necessary to ensure that the adults claiming to be the children’s guardians were not human smugglers and to comply with a 2016 court ruling that requires the release of illegal immigrant children to family members living in the U.S. or a sponsor after 20 days. The decision did not require the release of the adults accompanying the children.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing families in one of the lawsuits, reacted favorably to the proposals to compensate members of separated families. Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s immigrant-rights project, cited the proposed payouts as evidence that “President Biden has agreed that the family separation policy is a historic moral stain on our nation that must be fully remedied.”

Gelernt further maintained “that remedy must include not only meaningful monetary compensation but a pathway to remain in the country.” He and other lawyers involved in the litigation hope to have a deal reached regarding the settlements by the end of November.

On the other hand, critics of the Biden administration see the proposed payouts as unfair. Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson classified them as “reparations to illegal [immigrants].”

He slammed the administration for considering paying illegal immigrants payments significantly higher than the $100,000 received by the families of American citizens who die in service to the country: “That is less than a quarter of what Joe Biden intends to give illegal [immigrants] for the inconvenience of being deported.”

“They’re, once again, getting $450,000 a piece from your tax receipts. That’s more than some of the 9/11 victims got. It’s more than any ordinary American ever gets for anything from the U.S. government,” he added.

The Journal report comes as data collected by Customs and Border Protection show that the number of encounters between illegal border crossers and law enforcement officials exceeded 1.7 million in fiscal year 2021, which concluded last month. Those figures represent a dramatic increase from the approximately 450,000 encounters in fiscal year 2020.

The statistics reflect a monthslong border surge that critics of the Biden administration attribute to its rollback of two Trump-era immigration policies: the Migrant Protection Protocols, which required those seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their cases were adjudicated, and Title 42, which allowed immigration officials to immediately turn back illegal immigrants because of public health concerns arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

As an average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics shows President Joe Biden’s approval rating on the issue of immigration remains underwater with a net disapproval rating of more than 25 points, Reuters reported that the Biden administration is expected to restart the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, next month.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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