Tennessee senator pushes back on financial compensation for families separated at the border

Immigrant families want the government to pay up for separation policies. Republicans disagree.
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 8:15 AM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Separated families are seeking justice. The U.S government is in negotiations to find a solution after immigrant families say they were separated because of government policies in 2017 and 2018. Some families are hoping to get hundreds of thousands of dollars from the U.S.

“When they were reunited, he told his mother he wanted to kill himself,” said Kathryn Hampton, deputy director of the asylum program at Physicians for Human Rights.

Hampton recalled the case of a boy whose mother was taken from him for a short time, but it was a trauma-inducing episode. She said the separation happened because of a Trump-era zero tolerance policy meant to stem the flow of immigrants to the United States. Hampton said her organization did studies on many families impacted by the policy.

“If you’ve been separated from your young child for months or years, you can never get that time back. That’s always going to be something that you’re going to remember,” said Hampton.

Now the government is considering the price of trauma.

“One of the parents asked our psychologist, ‘How can I make this pain go away?’” said Hampton.

The American Civil Liberties Union is leading cases against the government, looking for damages that could amount to $450 thousand per person. President Joe Biden recently said that is not going to happen, but the ACLU shot back saying “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.”

“It’s not just about a financial compensation, it’s not just about resources. It’s also about apologizing and acknowledging what happened. And we really think the families deserve a full apology from the U.S. government,” said Hampton.

A number of Republicans in Washington are crying foul over remedies for the families. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) argues they broke the law.

“The appropriate remedy is to make certain that individuals who are going to be coming to the country are coming through the legal process,” said Blackburn.

Blackburn believes drug cartels are to blame for the trauma of some of these individuals. She also said she doesn’t think the Biden Administration has the authority to negotiate the payments because the funds are not appropriated by Congress.

“I think that it is appropriate to use the rule of law. We don’t want anyone to be mistreated or harmed,” said Blackburn.

The Justice Department declined to comment on ongoing negotiations. It is unclear when or if these cases will be settled.

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