The Biden administration could pay up to $ 1 billion to immigrant families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border during the Trump administration.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the United States Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services could end up paying close to $ 1 million per separated immigrant family at the border. Sources told WSJ that around $ 450,000 per person is being considered, but could change based on individual family circumstances.
Discussions about the payments have taken place over the course of the past few months between attorneys representing immigrant families suing the federal government and the government’s own attorneys, according to WSJ. Apparently, some government attorneys considered the amounts of the payments excessive.
Margo Schlanger, DHS civil rights and civil liberties officer during the Obama administration, told WSJ: “Class actions for damages in these types of cases are quite rare, it’s hard to think of a recent comparison.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represents several families in a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy. In January, it issued a statement urging the incoming Biden administration to act quickly on the issue.
“The incoming administration must reunite separated families in the United States, but we cannot stop there. These families deserve citizenship, resources, care and the commitment that family separation will never happen again. ”
Since taking office, the Biden administration created the Interagency Task Force on Family Reunification and its latest Progress report, released in September, confirmed that it had reunited 50 children separated from their parents and given them access to behavioral health services. Another 2,171 children have been reunited through a court order and thanks to the efforts of non-governmental organizations.
However, the same report confirmed that 1,727 children have yet to be reunited with their families, representing 33 percent of all those identified as separated from their parents by DHS under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.
The ACLU is still fighting its lawsuit with the Biden administration, and according to WSJ, not every family it represents will be eligible for a potential financial settlement.
The Office of the Inspector General conducted a revision of DOJ’s zero tolerance policy and found that under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the agency “did not effectively prepare and manage the implementation of the zero tolerance policy.”
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