$ 450,000 proposal for separated families is fair, says Texas law professor

Republican politicians criticize President Joe Biden’s administration for considering paying $ 450,000 to separated immigrant families under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy,

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the US Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services plan to offer approximately $ 450,000 to each person separated from their family after crossing the southern border of the country. Payment critics have called the potential disbursements “crazy,” but is the proposal as unusual as some claim? Geoffrey Hoffman, director of the University of Houston Immigration Clinic, says the $ 450,000 figure is probably much lower than it should be.

“A proposed monetary settlement is not atypical in litigation in federal courts where rights have been violated,” Hoffman said. “It would be appropriate in these horrific cases of family separation.”

About 5,500 children have been separated from their parents as part of Trump’s immigration policy, according to Miriam Jordan of the New York Times. Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration initiative in April 2018. In June of that year, Trump signed a Executive Decree calling for an end to family separation at the border, but “zero tolerance” remained the policy in force until its official cancellation by the Justice Department in January 2021. It is estimated that 1,000 families have yet to be reunited after the parents were deported to their home countries, Jordan reports.

“No amount of money can compensate for the pain and suffering these parents and children have endured as part of this unacceptable and unprecedented policy,” said Trina Realmuto, executive director of the National Immigration Litigation Alliance. AP News in October. The law firm represents five mothers who have been separated from their children for periods of more than two months.

When reports of possible repairs surfaced, some GOP members called the proposal “foolish. “Trump himself called the payments possible.”not even believableWhile Representative Dan Crenshaw compared the amount to payments received by families of veterans killed in the line of duty. “Biden wants to pay illegal immigrants $ 450,000 for their hardship while breaking our laws,” he said. the Houston-based congressman tweeted. “For the prospect, if a serviceman is killed in action, his next of kin receives an insurance payment of $ 400,000. Let it flow. “

Hoffman disagrees that such payments are extraordinary, citing similar settlements involving previously exempt immigrants. “When the government or private parties have violated the rights of immigrants, the courts have in the past allowed appropriate monetary settlements,” he said, pointing to a 2019 Motel 6 case, in which the private hotel company agreed to pay nearly $ 20 million to tens of thousands of former guests whose “Latin-American-sounding names” have been disclosed to federal agents targeting undocumented residents for expulsion. “This amount was way more than what we see in the proposed settlement here,” Hoffman said.

He also explains that the federal government is subject to claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FCTA), which allows monetary damages. “Under the FCTA, the federal government acts as a self-insurer and recognizes responsibility for the negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of its employees acting in the course of their official duties,” according to the US House of Representatives. United. website“The United States is liable to the same extent as an individual would be in similar circumstances.”

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