In late October the Wall Street Journal broke the story that “[t]he Biden administration [was] in talks to offer immigrant families that were separated during the Trump administration around $450,000 a person in compensation[.]” I noted it in “Bordering on insanity: Payout edition.”
In addition to denying that the settlement would happen, Biden called the story “garbage…It’s not true.” Yet it was undoubtedly a bona fide story. The administration issued no denial in the week following the story’s publication.
ACLU President Anthony Romero issued this statement following Biden’s press conference. On the question of fact regarding the accuracy of the story, Romero said this:
President Biden may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department as it carefully deliberated and considered the crimes committed against thousands of families separated from their children as an intentional governmental policy.
Romero continued on the politics of the lawsuit:
But if he follows through on what he said, the president is abandoning a core campaign promise to do justice for the thousands of separated families. We respectfully remind President Biden that he called these actions “criminal” in a debate with then-President Trump, and campaigned on remedying and rectifying the lawlessness of the Trump administration. We call on President Biden to right the wrongs of this national tragedy.
The settlement may not happen, but the story wasn’t garbage. Perhaps Biden gives us yet another case of Democrat projection.
The three Journal reporters on the story returned to it here the following week. They asked both the White House and Romero about Biden’s statement:
The White House referred questions about the president’s remarks to the Justice Department, which said it “will not comment on ongoing litigation.”
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Mr. Romero said later Wednesday that the Justice Department had assured the ACLU that talks were continuing. “If we can’t achieve true restitution,” he added, “we’ll take our case on behalf of our clients to court.”
The Journal story wasn’t “garbage.” The ACLU at least has the facts straight. I would add only that the ACLU now believes more adamantly in illegal immigration than it does in free speech, which it now finds problematic.
Once President Biden was brought into the loop, he vehemently defended the validity of the claims and related settlement negotiations, arguing that his reference to “garbage” bore only on the alleged settlement amount. “If, in fact, because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you coming across the border, whether it was legally or illegally, and you lost your child — You lost your child. It’s gone — you deserve some kind of compensation, no matter what the circumstance,” Biden angrily bellowed. “What that will be I have no idea. I have no idea.” His having no idea is a generally applicable proposition.
My guess is that someone inside the Biden Justice Department who saw the absurdity of the settlement negotiations leaked them to the Journal with the intended effect of creating the uproar that ensued. Now comes word from the Journal that the Justice Department has pulled out of the settlement talks:
The government will instead move to litigate the hundreds of claims filed by families seeking monetary damages for the lasting psychological trauma they say the prolonged separations caused, according to Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s immigrant-rights project and a lead negotiator in the talks.
The Journal adds that the Justice Department declined to comment. We can’t be sure, but they may not be entirely happy having their client on record supporting the merits of the claims brought by the adverse parties to the litigation.