The Biden administration is discussing a plan to issue $450,000 per person payments to immigrant families separated at the southern U.S. border during the Trump administration, a new report revealed Thursday.
People familiar with the discussions told The Wall Street Journal that the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services are discussing compensation for immigrant families with at least one parent and one child who illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico to seek asylum and were separated.
Potential payments could reach $1 million per family, and the payout potential could total at least $1 billion. Settlement negotiations have been ongoing for months and a deal could be reached before December, sources told WSJ.
The American Civil Liberties Union said government figures showed 5,500 children were separated at the border. Sources told WSJ that 940 claims have been filed by the families so far. The lawsuits are demanding an average of $3.4 million per family.
Settlement negotiations between lawyers representing the families and the government have reportedly been contentious over the settlement amounts.
One DHS lawyer reportedly said the settlement amounts could exceed those paid to 9/11 victims. The 9/11 settlements were an average of $2 million each.
In 2018, families were separated after they crossed illegally into the U.S. The lawsuits allege permanent mental health problems in children affected by the separation and months away from their families.
The Biden administration has condemned the family separation policy and vowed to reunite families.
In February, the Biden administration announced a task force to reunify separated immigrant families.
“President Biden believes that families belong together. He has made clear that reversing the Trump Administration’s immigration policies that separated thousands of families at the border is a top priority,” the announcement said.