Opinion: Families torn apart by the Trump administration deserve payouts

Page The Wall Street Journal reported last month that settlements with the families could reach $ 450,000 per month. person, and the total buyout could be $ 1 billion or more, Republican lawmakers has been in revolt. On Fox News, former Vice President Mike Pence blown up such a plan as “totally unacceptable” while the Republican rep. Mo Brooks from Alabama condemned the idea of ​​”abominable and transgressive evil”.
Between 2017 and 2018, about 5,600 families was separated under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of some of the families in 2019 alleging violations of constitutional and civil rights. It is these negotiations that are underway.
Regardless of the final amount, the victims of family segregation deserve compensation. Both politics and historical precedent support the payment of a financial settlement to those affected by the terrible practice. This is the right thing to do for the migrant families who will suffer the consequences of the separations for the rest of their lives.
Of course, the victims of family separation suffered enormous trauma. American Academy of Pediatrics said that such separations were “child abuse” while Physicians for Human Rights called the “torture”. Children were detained under punitive conditions, often thousands of miles from their parents. Some children, alone in public care or in nursing homes, have reportedly experienced physical and sexual abuse.
These results were known by the administration. Trump even said the family separations were intended to serve as a deterrent to unauthorized migration. A former deputy director of the Refugee Resettlement Office told a Senate committee that he warned officials on the devastating consequences of family separations, but the Trump administration nonetheless went ahead with the policy.
Giving these families compensation would be one public recognition that the U.S. government harmed them. The money will enable families to access the health and psychological help they and their children will need in the coming years. It will serve as a warning to future administrations that such a policy should never be pursued again.
The government have given compensation to certain groups in the past. In 1988, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act, which paid out $ 20,000 to Japanese Americans interned in World War II camps. The government too paid out money to members of Alaska’s Aleut community who were forcibly relocated during the same war. Similar initiatives have also taken place at the local level. In 1994, Florida approved over $ 2 million settlement for black victims of a racial massacre in 1923, while Chicago in 2016 paid more than $ 5 million for police torture victims.

One difference in these cases is that repayment was made decades after the damage was inflicted, meaning that some victims never lived to receive settlement. With victims of family segregation, the government can act now where compensation can make the biggest difference in the lives of migrant families.

President Joe Biden has sent mixed messages about settlements for migrant families. He called reports of the $ 450,000 proposal “garbage” and said:It will not happen“A White House spokesman later went back his comments and said the president would be “perfectly comfortable” with a settlement for a lower amount. But it should not be Biden’s decision to take. The settlers are negotiated by the ACLU and the federal agencies. The President should respect their expertise and let the negotiations continue without interfering in them.
Of course conservative media have seized on this issue and claims that the United States rewards “illegal immigrants“to come to this country without permission. Yet any compensation for migrants will be due to the fact that the US government separated parents and children. These migrants were refugees and asylum seekers who exercised their legal rights to humanitarian relief. And consider that no amounts can undo the pain and suffering that these families went through, or give parents the time back they lost with their children.

If conservatives are outraged at such disbursements of taxpayers’ money, they should be angry at the administration that committed these abuses, not its victims.

While Americans are preparing to gather for the holidays, it is worth reflecting on the value of the family, regardless of immigration status. Vulnerable parents and children were injured by the previous administration and the government now has the option of making compensation. Migrants deserve financial compensation for the horrors of family separations.


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