White House says DOJ will determine payouts to migrant families

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​A senior White House adviser said the Justice Department will set the amount of compensation if it deems that paying migrants separated from their families will save taxpayers money — payments that run as much as $450,000 or more.

“If the DOJ determines that it saves the taxpayers money and it rights a wrong, then they will make the determination that is necessary and I would assume if they make a determination, they’ll come up with what they think is an adequate dollar amount,” Cedric Richmond said on “Fox News Sunday.”

R​ichmond said the Justice Department is making its decision independently of the White House. ​

“But again, the question is​,​ we took children​. President Trump ​took children from their ​parents, and some children have never been returned. Do we think that’s OK​?” he asked. ​​

Representative Cedric Richmond said the Justice Department is making its decision to pay migrant families who were separated independently of the White House. ​
Representative Cedric Richmond said the Justice Department is making its decision to pay migrant families who were separated independently of the White House. ​
Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Migrants sit in the newly established central processing centre of the Federal Police and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
Migrants sit in the newly established central processing centre of the Federal Police and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

He also bristled at comments from Republicans critical of the payout who said the money could serve as incentives for migrants to try to cross into the US. ​

“I​ mean, at some point, we cannot with a straight face say that parents are willing to separate from a child for ​a dollar amount. That’s just not true​,” Richmond said.​  ​”​And we should not talk​ like that.”​ 

President Biden on Saturday spoke in defense of the payments, which could amount to a $450,000 award for each family separated after illegally crossing into the US, after he initially called reports of the compensation “garbage.”

A White House official said that payments that run as much as $450,000 or more.
A White House official said that payments that run as much as $450,000 or more.
Jacob Garcia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“If in fact, because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you were coming across the border, whether it was legal or illegal, and you lost your child — you lost your child — it’s gone — you deserve some kind of compensation, no matter what the circumstance,” the president told reporters at a news conference on the​ House passing his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan.​

“What that will be, I have no idea. I have no idea,” he added.​

Biden’s comments were ​a complete turnaround from comments he made Wednesday during an exchange with Fox News’ Peter Doocy about a Wall Street Journal report that asylum seekers separated under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” border policy would be compensated up to $1 million per family. 

President Biden on Saturday spoke in defense of the payments, after he initially called reports of the compensation "garbage."
President Biden on Saturday spoke in defense of the payments, after he initially called reports of the compensation “garbage.”
MediaPunch / BACKGRID

“That’s not gonna happen,” Biden said​ pointedly. 

“You guys keep sending that garbage out?” the president said. “But it’s not true.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been negotiating on behalf of the parents, released a statement suggesting the president “may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department.”

The ACLU is in talks with the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services about the payments that would settle lawsuits filed on behalf of the families who crossed the border illegally and had their children separated from them.

The migrant caravan continues moving along the coasts of Chiapas, in Tonala, Mexico on November 4, 2021.
The migrant caravan continues moving along the coasts of Chiapas, in Tonala, Mexico on November 4, 2021.
Jacob Garcia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal reported that the average demand in each lawsuit adds up to approximately $3.4 million per family, while the settlement offer from the Biden administration amounts to around $450,000 per person and close to $1 million per family.

A group of House Republicans last week introduced a bill that would block the potential payouts to immigrant families.

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