The memo: Trump’s much-criticized policy puts Biden in a vise

A plan to compensate parents and children who were separated by the Trump administration at the southern border is causing President BidenJoe Biden Nicaragua Ortega Prepares to Win Election Amid International Criticism Representative Gosar Releases Anime Video Showing Him Hitting Biden, Ocasio-Cortez Overnight Energy & Environment – Presented By ExxonMobil – Activists Cry Over COP26 Draft MORE real political problems, amid Republican opposition and a broader conservative backlash.

The fact that Biden has taken a notable misstep in responding to criticism has compounded the administration’s problem.

But all of those factors are fueling frustration among advocates for the families that were separated. For them, the case amounts to a traumatic but conventional legal case that has been the victim of politicization and demagoguery.

“Everybody is jumping around and making assumptions about what’s going on here, and that’s how I know it’s more about politics than these families,” Jess Morales Rocketto of Families Belong Together, an advocacy group, told this column.

The Trump-era policy, introduced in May 2018, caused child separations to skyrocket along the southern border. Around 3,000 migrant children were separated from their parents at the height of the crisis.

The politics caused an international political storm. Images of distressed children in cages passed around the world. The then president ended the policy in a couple of months.

Trump’s advocates noted that some child separations had also occurred under President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy & Environment – Presented by ExxonMobil – Activists cry over draft COP26 Balance / Sustainability – Presented by Altria – Obama urges the world to do more at COP26 Biden administration proposes to rescind Trump’s rule by expanding waivers religious MORE. But such separations were rarer during the Obama era and did not involve the element of intentionality that characterized Trump’s approach.

The issue has come alive again since The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 28 that the Biden administration was in talks to settle cases brought by victims of the policy for around $ 450,000 per person, a sum that could result in that some families receive close to $ 1 million.

According to the Journal, around 940 claims have been filed so far. The newspaper noted that if the $ 450,000 figure is correct, the total settlement bill could be in the region of $ 1 billion.

The issue has burned the conservative media ever since.

President Biden referred to the reports from the settlements as “garbage” last week.

But the White House pushed back that statement the next day, with the chief deputy assistant secretary of the press. Karine Jean-PierreKarine Jean-Pierre Overnight Health Care – Presented by Rare Access Action Project – White House Unaffected by On The Money Mandate Ruling – White House Delves into Vaccine Mandate Republican Says Republican Party Should Block government funding on vaccine mandates MORE saying that, in fact, the president was “perfectly comfortable” solving the cases “if it saves taxpayers dollars and leaves behind the disastrous history of the previous administration’s use of zero tolerance and family separation.”

Jean-Pierre also said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had told the plaintiffs that the $ 450,000 figure was higher than “a settlement can land.” Biden’s “rubbish” comment, he added, was “reacting to … the dollar figure that was mentioned.”

A group of Senate Republicans, led by the Senator. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David Daines The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Tester’s Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act Senators Seek to Permanently Expand Telehealth Eligibility McConnell Endorses Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate Race MORE (R-Mont.), Has introduced an amendment aimed at blocking the use of the National Defense Authorization Act to pay compensation.

Daines claimed that the reported plan meant that “Biden’s open border policies have reached a new level of insanity.”

However, objectively speaking, much of the conservative rhetoric seems to ignore or sidestep some crucial issues.

Much of the Republican criticism has pointed out that Bide makes “payments” to “illegal immigrants” as if the president is simply pulling out the national checkbook for anyone in the nation without authorization.

On Twitter, the senator. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care – Presented by Rare Access Action Project – The White House, unfazed by the mandate ruling, Ted Cruz wants Texas to secede if ‘things get desperate’ in the US. (R-Texas) said Biden “wants to give $ 450,000 to every illegal immigrant.”

Its. Bill cassidyBill CassidyBiden Sends The Wrong Message On Climate Change, US Is A Leader In Reducing Emissions Google To Allow Minors To Request Removal Of Images From Search Trump Chases Cassidy After Senator Says Not would stand for president in 2024 MORE (R-La.), Joining Daines’ statement, said it was “absurd” that “the Biden administration wants to pay illegal immigrants $ 450,000 to cross the border and get caught.”

Its. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonHillicon Valley – The Race to Speak Out on Cyber ​​Violations Senators introduce bipartisan bill to limit mergers of tech giants Overnight Defense & National Security – A new plan to treat Marines ‘like human beings’ MORE (R-Ark.) Another backer of the Daines effort, compared the payments to paying “damages to a burglar who broke into your home.”

However, the irate rhetoric avoids some realities.

The DOJ faces nearly 1,000 claims for damages. Many of those claims come from children who were separated from their parents without it being clear that they would ever be reunited. Some have not yet met.

Medical experts at the time said the policy amounted to child abuse. A report last year by the nonprofit group Physicians for Human Rights said it constituted torture.

In fact, therefore, the government exposure was caused by Trump’s policy. And cases will have to be resolved one way or another.

Sure, the Justice Department could take a chance in court. But given that the plaintiffs are seeking an average of $ 3.4 million per family according to the Journal, that would be an expensive gamble. The government, and by extension the taxpayer, would also have to bear the legal costs of going to court.

“From what I know, $ 450,000 is not the correct number,” said Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “But I do know that the government would be better served if it had the opportunity to settle this for an amount within the bounds of reason. Lawyers do this all the time. “

Advocates like Morales Rocketto insist that the debate also has a moral dimension.

“I just reject all these hyperpolarized discussions,” he said. “It’s about what we owe to these kids and their parents, to try to get this right so that it isn’t a stain on the American project forever.”

However, for the Biden administration, it is another controversy that adds to a list of political problems.

Immigration has long been one of the president’s worst polls. A poll conducted last week for a conservative group found that nearly 70 percent of likely voters opposed the proposed deals.

The president is caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to remedy the damage caused by a policy he never supported.

The Memo is a column reported by Niall Stanage.

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