President Joe Biden said on Saturday that migrants separated at the border during the Trump era “deserve” compensation, a confusing reversal from comments made earlier in the week in which he called reporting on the rumored $450,000 payments “garbage,” as the New York Post notes.
Just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the payments were to be part of an administration effort “to resolve lawsuits filed on behalf of parents and children who say the government subjected them to lasting psychological trauma” during temporary separations undertaken under former President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
When asked last week about the possible compensation scheme, Biden emphatically declared, “that’s not going to happen” and called reporting on the subject “garbage,” as the Washington Examiner reported at the time.
Those remarks led to some clarifying comments from administration spokespeople as well as from the head of the American Civil Liberties Union, the group currently embarking on settlement talks with the federal government on behalf of the migrant families, with the latter suggesting that “President Biden may not have been fully briefed about the actions of his very own Justice Department…”.
On Thursday, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated, “The president is perfectly comfortable with the Department of Justice settling with the individuals and families who are currently in litigation with the U.S. government.”
Indeed, Biden must have received a talking-to from those in the know inside his White House, given the striking turnabout in the answer he gave this weekend when asked once again about the compensation payments.
Indicating that his prior statement on the matter had to do not with the concept of the payments, but rather their supposed size, Biden angrily defended the notion of compensating migrants, saying, according to The Hill, “Now here’s the thing. If in fact because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you coming across the border, whether it was legal or illegal, and you lost your child. You lost your child. It’s gone. You deserve some kind of compensation…”.
In the midst of all the contradictory messaging from the administration, Republican opposition to the notion of such payments has been made abundantly clear, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) labeling the proposal “Pure insanity” and a “slap in the face to our law-abiding citizens who wake up, go to work, and pay their taxes.”
GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (NY) aptly summed up the bizarre whipsawing from the president on this issue by saying on Friday, “Once again, [Biden] either lied or has no idea what’s going on,” and that is a description that unfortunately characterizes the lion’s share of his conduct in recent months.