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President Biden “may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department,” the ACLU charged Wednesday, after he labeled as “garbage” a news report that his administration is considering $450,000 per person payouts to families separated after illegally crossing the US-Mexico border.
In a statement, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero warned Biden that he risked “abandoning a core campaign promise to do justice for the thousands of separated families.
“We respectfully remind President Biden that he called these actions ‘criminal’ in a debate with then-President Trump, and campaigned on remedying and rectifying the lawlessness of the Trump administration,” Romero said. “We call on President Biden to right the wrongs of this national tragedy.”
Hours earlier, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy had asked Biden if the payments, which were first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal, could incentivize 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.”
However, 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. Trump signed an order to end family separations in June 2018 after backlash.
Payouts to illegal immigrant families would not be the first controversial legal settlement agreed to by the Biden administration.
The Justice Department last month agreed to restore former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s pension and to pay him $200,000 in missed benefits and $540,000 in attorney fees.
McCabe was fired in 2018 at the urging of the FBI’s non-partisan Office of Professional Responsibility after he allegedly lied to FBI agents, the Justice Department inspector general’s office and former FBI Director James Comey about authorizing a leak to the media about a probe of the Clinton Foundation. He was not prosecuted, even though lying to the FBI carries up to five years in prison.