Florida governor Ron DeSantis blasted the Biden administration over reports that it is considering issuing $450,000 payments to illegal immigrants who were separated from their families at the southern border under the Trump administration for a total payout that could cost the government more than $1 billion.
DeSantis said he is “very, very concerned” about the sizeable payments, given that many Americans are struggling financially as inflation has sent prices for consumer goods soaring.
“You’ve had all kinds of really bad policies throughout our country that has limited freedom,” DeSantis said Friday. “And you’re going to turn around for that, and you’re going to do $475,000 for an individual that came illegally to this country?
“I’ve seen a lot in my day — I’ve seen a lot that’s happened over the last nine or ten months that I didn’t think I’d ever see — but this takes the cake,” he said. “If that is done, that is going to be a slap in the face to every hard-working American who works hard and plays by the rules.”
Paying illegal immigrants hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for "damages" is a slap in the face to hardworking Americans and individuals who legally immigrated to our country. pic.twitter.com/GxusWKLL6c
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) November 1, 2021
He said the payments would “be a slap in the face to people that have immigrated legally to this country.”
“That should not be allowed to stand. It’s wrong, and whatever we can do in Florida to fight back against it, we will do,” the governor said.
DeSantis’s remarks came in response to a report by the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services are weighing the payments as they work to resolve lawsuits claiming that the government subjected parents and children to lasting psychological trauma.
The report says that most of the families included one parent and one child who crossed the border illegally from Mexico and that many families would likely get smaller payouts, dependent on their circumstances.
While the American Civil Liberties Union says about 5,500 children were separated from their families at the border under the Trump administration, government officials expect that the number of families eligible under the potential settlement will be smaller.
Some government lawyers see the payouts as excessive for illegal immigrants who broke the law by crossing the border, the report says. It added that a government lawyer threatened to remove his name from the case in protest of the potential settlement offer.
A separate Department of Homeland Security attorney involved in the talks expressed concern that the payouts could exceed what some families of 9/11 victims received. However, senior departmental officials rejected the comparison because the U.S. government was not responsible for the terrorist attacks. The 9/11 victim-compensation fund averaged awards to the deceased of roughly $2 million, tax-free.
Meanwhile, 45 House Republicans signed on to a letter by Representative Greg Murphy (R., N.C.) demanding answers on the potential payouts.
“Promising tens of thousands of dollars to those who unlawfully entered the United States would not only reward criminal behavior, but it would surely send a message to the world that our borders are open and our rule of law will not be enforced,” reads the letter, which was signed by House minority whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, GOP Caucus chairwoman Elise Stefanik, and Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas.