Republican lawmakers are blasting reports that the Biden administration is discussing paying almost half a million dollars per person to illegal immigrants who were separated from their families at the southern border during the Trump administration — calling it “insanity,” “unacceptable,” and a “slap in the face.”
First reported by the Wall Street Journal Thursday, the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services are considering the payments in order to settle lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and others on behalf of families who crossed into the US from Mexico illegally to seek asylum. The families were separated under former President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy in 2018.
While the average demand in each lawsuit amounts up to around $3.4 million per family, the Biden administration is considering $450,000 per person — around $1 million per family.
Republicans — many of whom supported Trump’s immigration policies — took to Twitter to lambast the potential payouts.
“Insanity. Rewarding illegal immigrants with hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars is the ULTIMATE insult to law-abiding citizens,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) wrote.
“President Biden wants to send the IRS to surveil your bank account while cutting checks—with your money—to people who’ve broken our laws.”
House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) echoed Womack’s sentiments, calling it a “slap in the face.”
“Pure insanity. The Biden administration is reportedly looking to pay $450,000 to illegal immigrants who knowingly broke the law,” he tweeted. “It’s a slap in the face to our law-abiding citizens who wake up, go to work, and pay their taxes.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence — who stood by Trump’s policy while the two were in office and after — called the potential payments “unacceptable.”
“Of course their whole policy of the southern border has been a disaster from day one,” he said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” Friday. “It’s remarkable to think that under our administration, we built 400 miles of border wall and literally by implementing what was known as the Remain in Mexico policy, we reduced illegal immigration by 90%.”
“But the reality is that they’ve unleashed the worst border crisis in more than 30 years,” he added of the current administration. “And it’s all been because of dismantling policies that were working, but also sending a message south of the border — that America’s borders are open to people coming, coming north and entering our country illegally or abusing our asylum system.”
More lawmakers chimed in Thursday night.
“It’s unthinkable to pay a burglar who broke into your home for the ‘psychological trauma’ they endured during the crime,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted. “Yet the Biden admin wants to reward migrants who illegally entered our country with up to $450,000 each for just that reason. Insanity.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) also slammed the reported payments, comparing them to payments sent to families after a relative is killed in action.
“Biden wants to pay illegal immigrants $450,000 for their hardship while breaking our laws,” he tweeted. “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.”
Others hope the Journal’s report was “in error.”
“I just about fell out of my chair when I read this,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said. “For the sake of our country, I hope this reporting is in error. This would be an OUTRAGE”
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Col.) noted the extreme difference in the $450,000 payments compared to the $1,300 stimulus checks sent to Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, slamming Biden’s priorities.
“Joe Biden gave Americans a $1300 check but wants to give illegal immigrants $450,000, which is more than the 9/11 victims compensation fund. Amidst rising inflation, this is how he wants to spend your money. Priorities,” he wrote.
Many lawmakers noted how the potential payouts would come out of the taxpayer’s pockets, calling it “unacceptable” and “madness.”
“UNACCEPTABLE Report says Biden admin considering payments of 450k per person 2ppl who crossed the border ILLEGALLY Those are taxpayers dollars We should not be paying anything to ppl who break our laws,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote.
“Joe Biden wants to raise your taxes, but give $450,000 to illegal immigrants. Biden is putting America last,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) tweeted.
“President Biden wants to provide $450,000 payouts to illegal immigrants who crossed the border unlawfully. This is pure madness and an insult to hardworking taxpayers,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said.
Wisconsin Rep. Bryan Steil blasted the move as it comes when the border is “wide open.”
“Our border is wide open and now Biden is in talks to pay illegal immigrants $450,000. This is unbelievable,” he wrote.