WASHINGTON — President Biden on Wednesday said migrants separated from family members at the border would not receive hundreds of thousands of dollars for the damage inflicted by the Trump-era policy, rejecting an option for monetary compensation that had been floated in negotiations with lawyers representing the families.
Representatives of the migrant families and government officials had discussed giving families $450,000 for each member affected by former President Donald J. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which led to the separation of about 5,500 children from their parents, according to people familiar with the matter. But when asked on Wednesday about compensating the migrants, Mr. Biden denied the option was on the table.
“$450,000 per person? Is that what you’re saying?” Mr. Biden said when asked by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy about the payments. “That’s not going to happen.”
Mr. Biden made the comment as he took questions after touting the forthcoming availability of vaccines for children. The remark was swiftly condemned by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is negotiating on behalf of the separated families.
prompted fierce debate within the administration, with some of Mr. Biden’s top aides favoring stronger policies to contain the crossings, while others support a more welcoming stance to make good on the president’s campaign pledge of restoring an asylum program at the southwest border.