Biden Admin To Pay Immigrant Families Separated By Trump, As If Money Can Even Compensate For That
The Biden administration is working on a plan to pay financial compensation to immigrant families whose children were taken from them under Donald Trump's "Zero Tolerance" effort to scare people away from the border by means of torturing kids. The Washington Post has some of the details, based on anonymous sources who know what's up:
The dollar amounts remain under discussion, but one person with knowledge of the negotiations said payouts could total $450,000 per person, with some families potentially receiving $1 million.
The U.S. government took more than 3,000 children away from their parents along the Mexican border in May and June 2018, the peak of Trump's Zero Tolerance prosecution effort. Department of Homeland Security officials say the total number taken while Trump was in office exceeds 5,500.
And as you'll recall, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the rest of the Trump government jumped right into taking kids from their parents and sending them to government-run shelters without any attempt to keep track of the children, because why would anyone even think about ever reuniting them? It's not like they were real people, they were lawbreakers from shithole countries who needed to be taught a lesson, and to scare other people from shithole from messing with America, which was Great Again.
And for that matter, even when ordered by a federal court to find and reunite all the families, Team Trump said it couldn't be bothered, leaving it up to the plaintiffs' attorneys at the ACLU, and to other NGOs, to find parents who had been deported while their kids remained in custody. As we noted more than once, at least the Nazis generally kept records of who it loaded onto the trains.
And all the while, Trumpworld insisted that the children who'd been taken from their parents were just fine, because the shelters were clean and the kids were being fed, at least once they made it to the shelters, and as long as you ignore that recording of tiny children at a Border Patrol detention site sobbing for their parents while an agent joked about all the noise. You want to know why we're going to pay these families? Here's a goddamn start. Needless to say, it may be triggering, and you may not want to subject yourself to it.
As we pointed out then, just having food and a place to sleep is not enough to prevent long term trauma to children.
Colleen Kraft, then the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was featured in a Washington Post story about her visit to one of those nice clean shelters, where a worker told her that
as much as she wanted to console [a sobbing, furious] little girl, she couldn't touch, hold or pick her up to let her know everything would be all right. That was the rule, Kraft said she was told: They're not allowed to touch the children.
"The really devastating thing was that we all knew what was going on with this child. We all knew what the problem was," Kraft said. "She didn't have her mother, and none of us can fix that."
The AAP said the separation policy amounted to child abuse, and as the Post notes in its story on the planned settlements, "Physicians for Human Rights, a New York-based human rights organization, called the separations 'torture.'"
ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who is one of these days going to have to be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, led the fight to get the families reunited, and to find parents whose children are still in US foster care (about 200 families even now according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story about the planned settlements). Gelernt is also the lead attorney in a class-action suit for compensation for migrant families, and said,
President Biden has agreed that the family separation policy is a historic moral stain on our nation that must be fully remedied. [...] That remedy must include not only meaningful monetary compensation, but a pathway to remain in the country.
At the very least. Lifetime access to mental health services seem like a minimum demand, too.
Thank heavens, a voice from Trumpworld has come forward to explain that the real moral stain involves making any attempt to address the damage the US did in the aim of reducing migration and pleasing Trump's racist base, as WaPo reports:
Chad Wolf, the former DHS acting secretary who was the department's chief of staff during the separations, criticized the potential settlements on Twitter, writing: "There are no limits to what this Administration will do."
"Everything they have touched re: border security / immigration is wrong for America," he said, referring to Biden officials. "But this may be at the top of the list."
It's funny, because "There are no limits to what this Administration will do" was precisely why America is now going to pay for at least some of the harm it inflicted on families.
The Post adds that
People close to the settlement agreement say that $450,000 may end up being roughly the average compensation, but that the number will vary. Some parents may not receive any compensation at all, depending on any criminal charges against them. Others still have not filed tort claims.
Also too, because even the effort to clean up from Trump's torture could end up having unplanned consequences if we aren't careful,
Advocates have raised concerns that publicizing possible financial settlements could put families in danger. Roughly 1,000 parents remain separated from their children and are mostly living in Central America, some in areas where organized crime groups engage in kidnapping and extortion.
That certainly adds to the case for bringing them to the US and keeping them safe. It would be the right thing to do, which means it will face tremendous resistance from those who don't especially care about whether brown people live or die, as long as they do it far away.
As The Atlantic's Adam Serwer said, the cruelty was the point. The cruelty was always the point, and it was the only point.
And now rightwingers are going to insist that paying the victims of the cruelty will bring back Trump in 2024, so there can be new and even more unrestrained cruelty. We can't let that happen.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.