Forbs staff writer Anna Kaplan, citing the Wall Street Journal which broke the story Thursday (Oct. 28), reported that the Biden administration is in talks to offer illegal immigrant families that were separated during the Trump administration around $450,000 a person in compensation for what their advocates say is “lasting psychological trauma.”
Kaplan quoted the Journal’s reliance on unnamed “people familiar with the matter,” that several agencies are at work to resolve lawsuits filed on behalf of parents and children who say the government subjected them to traumatic stress during the Trump administration.
The U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services are considering payments that could amount to close to $1 million a family, though the final numbers could shift, the people familiar with the matter said. Most of the families that crossed the border illegally from Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S. included one parent and one child, the people said. Many families would likely get smaller payouts, depending on their circumstances, the people said.
It is unclear how many people will be eligible for the settlement, but about 940 families have reportedly filed claims to date.The illegal immigrant families were separated after crossing the border from Mexico to claim asylum in 2017 and 2018 as part of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), among others, have filed lawsuits against the government alleging that the thousands of children and parents impacted by the policy have mental health effects from the prolonged trauma. The Journal reports that lawyers representing families and the government are continuing to negotiate the settlement and aim to reach an agreement by the end of November.
During Biden’s first weeks in office, he vowed to reunite the families that had been separated by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. Starting in 2017, the Trump administration tried to prosecute all immigrants who illegally crossed the border, resulting in children who arrived with their parents being sent to shelters and border facilities.
Lawyers representing the children in lawsuits allege that children were subjected to malnutrition and provided little medical attention at these facilities. The ACLU identified approximately 5,500 children who were separated from their parents after illegally crossing the border in 2017 and 2018, according to court documents. Not all of the children have been reunited with their parents, as governmental investigations found that the Trump administration did not create ways to track the parents and the children who had been separated.Approximately 1,000 families have yet to be reunited, Family Reunification Task Force leader Michelle Brané said in an interview earlier this month. She noted that there could be more as it’s “very hard to know because there’s no record.” She said the task force has reunited at least 52 families since Biden assumed office.
~ Grif cross posted in CoDA