DOJ says it won’t agree to payments to families separated at border

The Department of Justice informed lawyers for those separated at the border by the Trump administration that it would no longer seek to negotiate a settlement with payments to the families, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Thursday.

The development in the case follows weeks of Republican lawmakers harping on the Biden administration following reports it was considering settling the case with payments of as much as $450,000.

“After our government deliberately abused young children by separating them from their families, today they’ve walked away from negotiations to help those who were traumatized heal,” the ACLU wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

“Candidate Biden promised to help these children and families. But today, President BidenJoe BidenSinema doubles down on filibuster, in setback for rules change talks Overnight Energy & Environment — Senate panel backs drilling fee hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Senate passes sweeping defense bill MORE is shamefully playing politics with their lives and futures. We will never forget who takes action to help these families — and who turns their backs on them.”

Under former President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren backs expanding the Supreme Court Trump allies urge McCarthy to remove Kinzinger, Cheney from House GOP conference Agency managing Trump’s DC hotel lease failed to probe ethical conflicts: report MORE’s family separation policy, some 2,800 families were separated in 2018. While some were reunited, another 550 children were not reconnected with their parents under the prior administration, something the Biden administration has sought to rectify with a task force.

But President Biden in October denied the $450,000 figure, which was one of several being discussed during the negotiations.

“It’s not going to happen,” he told reporters at the time.

Republicans had cast the payments as “payouts,” with Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnSenate Republicans call on Biden to lift vaccine mandate for truckers crossing Canadian border Senators unveil bipartisan bill requiring social media giants to open data to researchers Instagram chief gets bipartisan grilling over harm to teens MORE (R-Tenn.) saying the U.S. should not give money to those who sought to enter the U.S. illegally. 

“Joe Biden wants to pay illegal immigrants $450,000 while Americans struggle to make ends meet in his inflated economy,” she wrote on Twitter in October.

But the move alarmed some who saw a settlement as a way to avoid lengthy and potentially expensive litigation, as a judge could condemn the Trump policy.

The end of the discussions means the ACLU and its litigation partners will now return to court to seek relief for their clients.

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