Illegal immigrants whose families were split up at the US-Mexico border during the Trump administration will not receive compensation, the Justice Department has declared – despite President Joe Biden promising otherwise.
Biden had claimed migrant families who were separated at the southern border while Trump was president deserved “compensation,” promising to deliver exactly that. But after eight months of fruitless legal negotiations, his Justice Department has changed course, arguing the families are not eligible for financial compensation at all.
In its first filing since last month, the department decided migrant families are not entitled to financial damages and should have their cases dismissed altogether. Facing some 20 lawsuits and hundreds more administrative claims from migrant families, the Justice Department has filed to dismiss two lawsuits in Pennsylvania and California. It is expected to take similar steps regarding the other cases.
“At issue in this case is whether adults who entered the country without authorization can challenge the federal government’s enforcement of federal immigration laws,” the department wrote in last week’s filing, stressing that the matter did not concern whether or not family separation was a good or useful policy. Indeed, they emphasized that they did not support the Trump administration policy. Instead, they said, it was merely an issue of whether the families had grounds to sue.
The Biden administration landed in hot water when it was reported last month in the Wall Street Journal that it planned to pay up to $450,000 to each family that had been separated, blaming “the outrageous behavior of the last administration” for the need to do so and insisting that those who had been separated “deserve some kind of compensation, no matter what the circumstance.”
Following an unprecedented flood of illegal immigrants over the border after his inauguration, the Biden administration has grudgingly shifted its open-borders policy back in the direction of Trump’s border regulations, including the controversial “remain in Mexico” policy, in which asylum-seekers must wait outside the US while their cases are being processed.
But while Trump spoke openly of the need to crack down on border crossings, Biden has struggled to maintain his campaign trail pro-migration persona, in which he denounced family separations as a “human tragedy,” despite the Obama administration having used many of the same or similar “zero-tolerance” policies with regard to migrant families while he was vice president.