President Biden recently engaged in several tense exchanges with reporters who pressed him over his administration’s consideration of $450,000 payments to illegal immigrants who were separated from their families at the southern U.S. border.
Biden interrupted a reporter’s questioning, “You said last week that this report about migrant families at the border getting payments was garbage,” saying, “No, I didn’t say that.”
“Let’s get it straight,” he said. “You said everybody coming across the border gets 450,000 dollars.”
The reporter responded, “So the number is what you had the problem with? President Biden confirmed that saying it was the number he took issue with.
“If, in fact, because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you coming across the border — whether it was legal or illegal — “You lost your child, he’s gone, you deserve some kind of compensation no matter what the circumstances.”
He then told the reporter he had “no idea” what the final monetary amount will be.
Biden’s comments came days after the president was asked if the payments could serve as an incentive for more migrants to cross the border and enter the U.S.
“If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah. But, it’s not true,” Biden responded.
When pressed further by the reporter whether “this is a garbage report,” Biden said, “Yeah. Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars per person. Is that what you’re saying? That’s not gonna happen.”
A day later, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefed reporters saying that the president had been commenting on “the dollar figure that was mentioned,” not settling with the families.
She continued, saying, “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 U.S. government.”
Jean-Pierre did not clarify what monetary figure Biden would support.
A report by the Wall Street Journal said that the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Justice are considering the payments as they work to resolve pending lawsuits claiming that the government subjected children and parents to lasting psychological trauma.
Some government lawyers say the payments are excessive, considering the migrants crossed into the U.S. illegally. Critics noted that the payments could exceed payment amounts given to some Gold Star and 9/11 families.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, compared the payments tweeting, “Biden wants to pay illegal immigrants $450,000 for their hardship while breaking our laws. For perspective, if a service member is killed in action, their next of kin gets an insurance payment of $400,000. Let that sink in.”
Additionally, dozens of Republicans wrote to agency heads to make a similar point.
“The idea that we would give illegal foreigners who broke the law a check that exceeds the amount that our government supplies to our valiant and heroic Gold Star Families is shameful, reprehensible, and morally indignant,” GOP leader said in a letter.
Kevin McCarthy, House Republican leader, also responded, saying the news was “another way President Biden is putting America last. Lawyers in his own administration admit payouts for illegal immigrants could be more than the families of the fallen from 9/11 received. Disgraceful.”