December 6, 2021

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WH: Biden now ‘perfectly comfortable’ with migrant payouts — after calling $450K report ‘garbage’ – New York Post

3 min read

President Biden is “perfectly comfortable” with cash payouts to migrant families whose members were detained separately after illegally crossing the US-Mexico border, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday.

The answer comes just a day after Biden labeled as “garbage” a report that his administration is considering $450,000-per-person payments.

Jean-Pierre pointedly pivoted Biden’s assessment after the American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday night said Biden “may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department.”

“If it saves taxpayer dollars and puts the disastrous history of the previous administration’s use of zero tolerance and family separation behind us, the president is perfectly comfortable with the Department of Justice settling with the individuals and families who are currently in litigation with the US government,” Jean-Pierre said at the daily White House press briefing.

Woman holds sign with photo of child crying behind bars.
The total amount paid out could reach close to $1 billion to settle lawsuits filed over the separations.
AFP via Getty Images / David McNew
President Biden seems to grimace in photo during speech.
Biden spoke with Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy saying that $450,000 payouts were “not gonna happen.”
Getty Images / Drew Angerer

“The president, what he was reacting to, was a figure that was mentioned, that you mentioned to him yesterday… DOJ made clear to the plaintiffs that the reported figures are higher than anywhere that a settlement can land.”

Biden on Wednesday appeared unaware of settlement negotiations and dismissed as ridiculous the large reported size of payouts.

Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy had asked Biden about a Wall Street Journal report on the possible range of settlement amounts and whether large payouts could spur even more illegal immigration.

“If you guys keep sending that garbage out? Yeah. But it’s not true,” Biden shot back.

“So this is a garbage report?” Doocy asked.

“Yeah. $450,000 per person — is that what you’re saying?” Biden replied. “That’s not gonna happen.”

People kneel around metal fence holding sign that reads, "666 children is 666 too many."
Biden has switched his stance on migrant family payouts just a day after labeling the plan as “garbage.”
Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

The Journal reported last week that the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services “are considering payments that could amount to close to $1 million a family” for migrants detained during the Trump administration.

The total amount paid out could reach close to $1 billion to settle lawsuits filed over the separations, which drew public outcry because children were housed apart from their parents.

Family units were separated under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ April 2018 “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all adults who illegally cross the border. President Donald Trump signed an order to end family separations in June 2018.

The proposed financial settlements have outraged Republicans.

“You can’t break our laws and then win the lottery,” Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Thursday on Fox News. 

“The message of deterrence is pretty much gone,” McCaul said. “This is what really angers the American people. This is why you saw the result you saw last Tuesday. They’re tired of these kinds of stories.”

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