Forty-five Republican lawmakers have sent a letter to the Biden administration slamming the “disastrous” payouts reportedly under consideration for illegal immigrants separated at the border, and demanding cabinet secretaries involved rethink the move.
In the letter sent to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday, the House Republicans insisted the payments would “unilaterally incentivize migrants from more than 150 nations across the world to surge our border.”
“The rationale for this egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars is to compensate these persons for ‘lasting psychological trauma.’ Do, however, note that these persons crossed into our country in a knowingly illegal manner, fully aware of the consequences of violating our rule of law,” they wrote.
“Actions have consequences, especially illegal actions made consciously. We are a nation of laws, and our laws must be enforced. 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 or rule of law will not be enforced.”
The payments in question, first reported by the Wall St. Journal Thursday, would 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 President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy in 2018.
According to the report, the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services are considering $450,000 payments per person — around $1 million per family.
“Compensating families who crossed our border illegally and knowingly will certainly exacerbate the greatest immigration and border security crisis that our nation has ever seen historically. This is in addition to the signal this sends to Cartels seeking to take advantage of illegal crossings however possible,” the Republicans wrote.
“Frankly, this disastrous policy will cue migrants across the border that they are not only welcome to enter the country illegally, but they are encouraged to do so as they will benefit financially from ignoring our rule of law.”
The House of Representatives pointed to the average American household income ($68,703 in 2019) and the maximum life insurance payout for military members (around $400,000) to show a stark difference.
“The idea that we would give illegal foreigners who broke the law a check that exceeds the amount that our government supplies to our valiant and heroic Gold Star Families is shameful, reprehensible, and morally indignant.”
They also branded the move “purely political,” asking why it is only the families separated in 2018 that would receive the payout and not those in 2008-2016 or 2021 during Democratic administrations.
“The Constitution reads ‘We the People’ not ‘We the Government.’ As humbly elected representatives of the American people, we urge your agencies to not only reconsider this horrific decision but also rescind any potential action to this effect,” they continued.
The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) and signed by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), GOP Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas).
The potential payments have received massive backlash from Republican lawmakers in both chambers of Congress.
“Pure insanity. The Biden administration is reportedly looking to pay $450,000 to illegal immigrants who knowingly broke the law,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) 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.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) noted the extreme difference in the $450,000 payments compared to the $1,300 stimulus checks sent to Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, slamming President 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.