White House says Department of Justice will determine amount of payouts to migrant families

Morning In America

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The White House said the U.S. Department of Justice would set the amount of compensation awarded to families of children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border during the Trump administration.

On Saturday, President Joe Biden said that regardless of the circumstances, people who had their children taken from them under the Trump administration’s family separation policy, meant to deter families from crossing into the U.S. illegally, should be reimbursed.

“If, in fact, because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you coming across the border, whether it was legally or illegally, and you lost your child — You lost your child. It’s gone — you deserve some kind of compensation, no matter what the circumstance,” Biden said. “What that will be I have no idea. I have no idea.”

Biden said the government was considering payouts of around $450,000 to each person affected, but the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says it would decide on the total figure awarded.

Shortly after taking office, Biden created a task force to attempt to reunify hundreds of children and parents affected by the policy, which was in place for several months during 2018 and sparked a domestic and international outcry.

The discussions continue, and there is no guarantee the two sides will strike an agreement.

IS IT A GOVERNMENT GIVEAWAY?

The answer: That’s not exactly true; these are lawsuits.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed on behalf of migrant families whose children were separated from them at the border. So like any lawsuit, the DOJ could lose. But, on the other hand, a judge could rule in favor of these families, and it is possible the families could be awarded more than the reported proposed $450,000. Or the DOJ could settle out of court, and according to reports, that’s what is most likely being considered.

DO THESE PAYOUTS COME FROM TAXPAYERS DOLLARS?

The answer: Yes.

If the DOJ settles with these families or they’re forced to pay due to losing the lawsuit in court, it would be from the taxpayer dollar pool.

WILL ALL SEPARATED MIGRANT FAMILIES RECEIVE $450,000?

The answer: that’s unclear.

Since a few thousand lawsuits have been filed and each case is different, Biden and the White House can weigh in from the sidelines as much as they want, but the DOJ ultimately gets to decide how much and who will get paid.

The White House also says the final figure awarded to families could be less than the reported $450,000, but it could still be thousands of dollars. However, the figure will not be determined until the DOJ begins awarding payouts.

About 5,500 children were split from their parents under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, under which parents were separated from their children to face criminal prosecution for crossing the border illegally, according to court filings in a federal case in San Diego. Inadequate tracking systems caused many to be apart for an extended time. The payouts are intended to compensate for the psychological trauma.

Attorneys for the families are also seeking permanent legal status in the United States for those separated under the practice, which a judge halted in June 2018, six days after Trump stopped it under international pressure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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