Dec 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DOJ ends settlement talks with migrant families separated under Trump

People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018 against then-President Trump's immigration policies. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Justice confirmed Thursday that it has ended negotiations for compensation for migrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy.

The big picture: The news comes after the Biden administration faced criticism from Republicans following reports that the DOJ was in talks to pay up to $450,000 per person to settle lawsuits filed on behalf of the families affected.

  • President Biden rebuffed the dollar amount last month, but the administration said at the time that those discussions were ongoing.

What they're saying: "While the parties have been unable to reach a global settlement agreement at this time, we remain committed to engaging with the plaintiffs and to bringing justice to the victims of this abhorrent policy," DOJ spokesperson Dena Iverson said in a statement Thursday.

Lawyers for the families accused the administration of "allowing politics to get in the way."

  • "It would be an understatement to say we are disappointed that the Biden administration allowed politics to get in the way of helping the little children deliberately abused by our government," said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt, who represents the families.
  • "We are going back to court. The trauma inflicted on these children and parents at the hands of our very own government is unfathomable. We need to do the right thing," Gelernt said in a statement.
  • "Candidate Biden promised to help these children and families," the ACLU tweeted. "But today, President Biden is shamefully playing politics with their lives and futures."

Go deeper: Over 280 migrant children to be reunited with their families

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