KEY POINTS

  • A parent and a child who were separated could receive up to $900,000 in compensation
  • Around 5,500 children were separated from their parents at the southern border
  • At least 300 parents separated from their children have yet to be found

Thousands of immigrant families who were separated by former President Donald Trump’s border policy could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation from the Biden administration. 

The U.S. Department of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services are currently in talks to offer $450,000 per immigrant, The Wall Street Journal reported citing three sources familiar with the discussions. This could mean that a parent and a child who were separated at the border could receive a combined payment of up to $900,000.

The sum total of the payments remains unknown. However, it is estimated that the potential payout could reach $1 billion. The talks are part of negotiations between lawyers representing the separated families and the Justice Department. 

Many of the lawsuits filed against the government also detailed ailments that children suffered from during separation, including heat exhaustion, malnutrition and anxiety. The lawsuits seek payouts of roughly $3.4 million per affected family, the sources said, according to the daily. 

In 2018, immigration agents at the border separated thousands of children from their parents under then-President Trump’s zero-tolerance enforcement policy. In some cases, families were not given any provisions to track their children. 

It is estimated that about 5,500 children were separated from their parents at the southern border. Most of the immigrants came from Central America, Brazil, Mexico and Romania. As of Thursday, at least 1,000 families have yet to be reunited. Court records also showed that more than 300 parents of separated children have yet to be located, according to NBC News.

President Joe Biden pledged to reunite the separated families during his first weeks in office. Since then, the government has established a task force to track down and reunite separated migrant families. The task force reunited more than 50 families as of Thursday.

The administration has also allowed more than a dozen parents who were deported to stay remain with their children in the U.S. for two years.

“There is no question that the Biden administration is doing the right thing by providing meaningful monetary compensation, given that the U.S. government deliberately brutalized these families, including babies and toddlers,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrant rights project, told The New York Times.

Trump mounted a hardline effort to halt illegal immigration, slash legal immigration and drive out undocumented immigrants Trump mounted a hardline effort to halt illegal immigration, slash legal immigration and drive out undocumented immigrants Photo: AFP / Luis ACOSTA