In October 2021, it was revealed that President Joe Biden’s administration was negotiating $450,000 reparations settlement payments with migrant families that had been split apart at the border under former President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” border security policies.
The significant backlash to that news prompted the administration to end those negotiations in December 2021, but a new report reveals that Biden’s team has reversed itself even further and is now arguing in court for the claims of those migrant families to be dismissed altogether, Breitbart reported.
It remains unclear why, exactly, this stunning about-face by the Biden administration, which is completely at odds with its position last year and the pro-migrant rhetoric the president used on the campaign trail and in office, has occurred.
That said, assuming the reversal holds, it will save taxpayer’s money, as the proposed $450,000 payouts per individual, an average of $3.4 million per migrant family, would have cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion overall — more than the reparations payments made to families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the Boston Marathon terror bombing attack.
Reversal after reversal
The New York Post reported in December on the news that the Biden administration had abruptly ended its settlement talks with attorneys representing migrant families who claimed to have suffered lasting trauma after being split apart while detained after crossing the southern border.
That initial reversal on the proposed payouts was undoubtedly due to substantial outcry from critical Republicans, which had been compounded by Biden’s own confused initial dismissal of the reported payments as “garbage” prior to then championing the reparations as just and necessary.
The Justice Department further insisted at that time that “While the parties have been unable to reach a global settlement agreement at this time, we remain committed to engaging with the plaintiffs and to bringing justice to the victims of this abhorrent policy.”
DOJ argues lawsuits should be dismissed
Yet, that doesn’t actually appear to be the case, according to CBS News, as the nixed settlement talks prompted the migrant families to file lawsuits and DOJ lawyers are now arguing that those suits should be dismissed.
The government attorneys now assert in legal filings that the migrant families are ineligible for compensation and have no standing to make their claims, and pointed to the statutory discretion U.S. officials have with regard to whether and how migrants are detained at the southern border.
“This discretion necessarily entails decisions regarding with whom non-citizens are detained, including decisions regarding whether adults and minors can be detained in the same facility and whether to detain family members together,” the DOJ stated in a January brief. The judge in that particular case disagreed, however, and ruled in favor of allowing the family’s claims to proceed while accusing the government of attempting to dodge its liability.
Migrant families feel betrayed
Meanwhile, CBS News further reported that activists and attorneys for the migrant families were infuriated by the administration’s shifted stance and accused the president and his people of engaging in “political double-speak” with regard to the alleged lasting trauma suffered by the split family members.
This is a rather curious development and it will be interesting to see how the White House attempts to explain its policy reversal — assuming, of course, that any media reporters even decide to ask about it.