GOP tries to block Biden payouts to separated migrants

GOP tries to block Biden payouts to separated migrants

House Republicans are set to introduce a bill Thursday that would block potential payouts to members of illegal immigrant families separated at the border under the Trump administration. 

The bill, known as the Illegal Immigration Payoff Prohibition Act, will be introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, and will look to amend 28 USC 2414, which gives the attorney general the power to enter settlement agreements. 

Co-sponsored by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and approximately 135 other House Republicans, the bill would block the attorney general from making any payouts to illegal immigrants that are connected to violations of immigration laws, such as “the provision of law that criminalizes illegal border crossing” and “the provision of law deems an individual inadmissible for attempting to enter the country illegally at a port of entry.”

The bill comes one week after the Wall Street Journal reported the administration is considering settling 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. 

Rep. Tom McClintock Immig
Rep. Tom McClintock will introduce the Illegal Immigration Payoff Prohibition Act.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The families in question 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.

Republicans immediately slammed the possible payments, calling the reported plan “disastrous.” 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
The bill is co-sponsored by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“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,” 45 House Republicans wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

In a statement, McClintock accused the Biden administration of making crime pay “very well.” 

Migrants are lined up and processed by Border Patrol
House Republicans allege that payouts will only exacerbate the border crisis.
Jason Garza/REUTERS

“Law-abiding, hardworking Americans have seen their purchasing power decimated by Biden’s economic policies while he has surrendered our southern border. Paying illegal immigrants $450,000 apiece as an apology for Trump’s decision to enforce our immigration law adds insult to injury. Congress has the power of the purse, and that’s why we must act today to stop this outrageous plan in its tracks,” he said, according to Fox News.

Following an address on coronavirus vaccines for children, President Biden was pressed on the reports and asked if the payments could “incentivize” more immigrants to cross the border illegally. 

“If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah. But it’s not true,” Biden told Fox News’ Peter Doocy.

Baby sleeping on her mother's shoulder
The ACLU referred to border family separations as a “national tragedy.”
Julio Cortez/AP

“So, this is a garbage report?” Doocy clarified.

“Yeah,” Biden said, adding “$450,000 — $450,000 per person, is that what you’re saying?”

“That was separated from a family member at the border under the last administration,” Doocy followed up.

“That’s not going to happen,” Biden said. 

Despite the president’s dismissal, the head of the ACLU said Biden “may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department,” and some Republicans still see the report as an “insult” to Americans. 

“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,” ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement. “We call on President Biden to right the wrongs of this national tragedy.”

“With all the challenges Americans are facing every day — including an unprecedented border crisis — providing $450,000 per person settlement payments to illegal immigrants is pure insanity,” McCarthy said in a statement.

“This is not only an insult to the American people, but also will worsen the border crisis and lead to a business boom for drug cartels and human traffickers, who are already exploiting Democrats’ disastrous border policies.”

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