There’s a pretty good rule of thumb for this observer when it comes to a reported political outrage: If someone is willing to flat-out say no, it’s likely false. If the answer is anything other than no, it’s likely true.
I haven’t scientifically tested this theory, mind you, but let’s see how it plays out when it comes to reports the administration of President Joe Biden is considering giving illegal immigrant families separated after crossing the border a settlement that works out to hundreds of thousands of dollars per person.
The proposed settlement was first reported by The Wall Street Journal last week; the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services would pay roughly $450,000 an individual to settle a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union representing families separated over the course of former President Donald Trump’s administration.
While the number might vary, sources said, it could work out to about “$1 billion or more” for the roughly 940 claims filed thus far.
On Wednesday, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked the president if that kind of number “that might incentivize more people to come over illegally.”
“If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah. But it’s not true,” Biden said, according to a Rev.com transcript, adding, “That’s not going to happen.”
On Thursday and Friday, Doocy followed up on this with White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during a media briefing — and thus the backpedaling began.
On Thursday, Jean-Pierre said that “if it saves taxpayer dollars and puts the disastrous history of the previous administration’s use of zero tolerance and family separation behind us, the president is perfectly comfortable with the Department of Justice settling with the individuals and families who are currently in litigation with the U.S. government.”
She added that Biden “was reacting to was the dollar figure that was mentioned,” not to the settlement itself.
Beyond that, however, she furthered all questions to the DOJ.
Then came Friday, when Doocy asked Jean-Pierre, “Why give taxpayer money to people who broke federal law to get here?”
“You like this question, Peter,” Jean-Pierre responded. “We talked about — but we talked about this yesterday.”
“But not to the heart of the point, which is that these people broke the law to come here and they are going to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money,” Doocy responded.
Jean-Pierre again said that questions should be referred to the DOJ, to which Doocy responded the DOJ had “no comment.”
She then said she couldn’t get to “the particulars or the specifics,” but that “one of the things that we have to remember, what — why we’re in this place that — where we are today is because we had an administration that had an inhumane, immoral policy that was taking babies away from their families, from their mothers.”
Doocy: “Why give taxpayer money to people who broke federal law to get here?”
Jean-Pierre: “One of the things that we have to remember why we’re in this place that we are today is because we had an administration that had an inhumane, immoral policy.” pic.twitter.com/EcqycUI9Lt
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 5, 2021
According to a White House transcript, Doocy then went on to ask whether there was “any kind of discussion about giving people who are coming here the right way money.”
“Why would — I — why would we be giving people who are coming here the right way money?” Jean-Pierre asked.
“Why are you giving people who came here the wrong way money?” Doocy responded.
After some back and forth, Jean-Pierre said she didn’t understand the question and that Doocy would have to ask the Department of Justice.
Jean-Pierre, I highly suspect, very much understood the question. What she also understood is that a) the Biden administration will likely give a huge settlement to families who came here illegally and b) it’s going to infuriate plenty of Americans.
At present, yes, the Department of Justice has reportedly said the $450,000 is “higher than anywhere that settlement can land,” ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero told CNN. How much higher, though? What’s clear is that the administration is intent on giving these families a payday for coming here illegally.
Ironically, the reason these families had to be separated at all is because of what’s known as the Flores settlement, a Clinton-era settlement to a lawsuit related to the detention of illegal immigrant minors. As the Center for Immigration Studies notes, this was eventually interpreted to mean the government could only keep minors in custody for 20 days.
In the end, that means the government has two choices when families break the law and enter illegally: They can simply release them pending a hearing or enforce the law and keep the parents in custody. The Trump administration decided on the latter, at least as far as they believed it to be feasible. The decision to break federal law, however, was made by the parents.
The Democratic base wants the administration to pay out. The rest of America, no matter how they felt about the Trump administration’s policies, would revolt against a huge payout — particularly when these individuals came here the wrong way and the country is in the midst of a border crisis.
Joe Biden knew what America would think, which is why he called the reported settlement “garbage.” Karine Jean-Pierre, I suspect, knows well enough that the settlement will end up being large enough to infuriate voters. When it happens, they’ll both hope the moment passes quietly.
With media briefings like this week’s, though, good luck with that.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.