The Wall Street Journal last week reported that the Biden administration was considering making payments of roughly $450,000 per person to members immigrant families separated at the border during the Trump administration, but on Wednesday, the president instead told reporters at the White House, “that’s not going to happen,” according to the Washington Examiner.
As the WSJ noted, the rumored payments were part of an administration effort “to resolve lawsuits filed on behalf of parents and children who say the government subjected them to lasting psychological trauma” during temporary separations that were made compulsory by former President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.
The outrage from conservatives over the very idea of this type of compensation was swift and sure, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling the notion “Pure insanity,” and adding, “The Biden administration is reportedly looking to pay $450,000 to illegal immigrants who knowingly broke the law. It’s a slap in the face to our law-abiding citizens who wake up, go to work, and pay their taxes.”
In attempting to scuttle further reporting that such payments could well be in in the offing, Biden responded to a question about whether offering these windfalls could end up incentivizing illegal crossings by saying, “If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah, but it’s not true.”
Try as he might to escape the instant firestorm the WSJ report provoked, it is worth noting, as Scott Johnson of Powerline Blog pointed out, that the truth of the outlet’s story has not otherwise been disproved, and the administration has not come forward with a denial in the week between its publication and Biden’s remarks.
Indeed, Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), currently engaged in settlement negotiations with the government on behalf of the separated immigrant families, seemed to contradict Biden’s characterization of where things stand, as Johnson further noted.
Romero issued a statement in the wake of the comments from the commander in chief and declared, “President Biden may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department as it carefully deliberated and considered the crimes committed against thousands of families separated from their children as an international governmental policy.”
The ACLU chief continued, “But if he follows through on what he said, the president is abandoning a core campaign promise to do justice for the thousands of separated families,” and when asked by the WSJ to square the discrepancies between what Biden and Romero each said, the White House deferred to the DOJ, which declined to comment on “ongoing litigation.”
Whether the fact that Biden appears at cross purposes with his own Justice Department on such a highly controversial matter is the result of his own forgetfulness or inattention, or of intentionally deceptive maneuvers from those who are really pulling the strings these days, none of the possible explanations engender much confidence at all.