President Biden denied on Wednesday that his administration was considering paying migrant families separated at the border during the Trump administration up to $450,000 per person, contradicting reports from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
“Do you think that might incentivize more people to come over illegally?” Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Biden.
“If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah. But it’s not true,” Biden replied.
Regarding the payments, Biden added, “That’s not going to happen.”
In response, the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents some of the families separated at the border in lawsuits, hinted that Biden was not “fully briefed” on actions by the Justice Department regarding those cases.
“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 intentional governmental policy,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement.
The Times and the Journal reported last week that people familiar with the matter said the administration was considering making the payments as part of lawsuits brought by migrant families whose members were separated at the border during the Trump administration. Not all families would be able to receive a full $450,000 per person, according to the reports.
“President Biden has agreed that the family separation policy is a historic moral stain on our nation that must be fully remedied,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU immigrant-rights division, told the Journal at the time. “That remedy must include not only meaningful monetary compensation, but a pathway to remain in the country.”
Several thousand children, ranging in age from infancy to teens, were separated from their parents at the border after the Trump administration enacted a “zero-tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration. The policy resulted in prosecution of all adults who entered the country, including those with children.
The former president rescinded the policy in June 2018. The Biden administration established a task force in February this year to reunite parents with their children following the separation.
Editor’s note 6:30 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union.