By Chad Wolf and Keith Kellogg in The Washington Times

President Joe Biden has taken another unthinkable step in jeopardizing Americans’ safety by offering a massive lump sum payment to illegal immigrants. His administration is in talks with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to pay illegal immigrants $450,000 per person, or $1 million per family, for “psychological trauma” they experienced in 2018 while crossing the border illegally. The settlement may amount to nearly $1 billion in payouts.

Not only does he require American families to fund these new payouts through their hard-earned tax dollars, but in doing so, Mr. Biden is sending a clear message: America will reward those who violate American law.

It also sends a message to those who serve on behalf of this country, who sacrifice their lives to defend its people and its laws. 

For perspective, $450,000 is roughly seven times the annual median household income in our country. It exceeds by four-fold the death gratuity of $100,000 given to families that lost a loved one in military service and exceeds the $400,000 the Servicemember Group Life Insurance provides. To further emphasize the absurdity of this payout, it is nearly double the $250,000 cap a 9/11 victim may have received for getting cancer. For death claims to the 9/11 Compensation Fund, an average of $2 million was awarded – these illegal alien families can expect half that for breaking the law. This payout is almost $100,000 more than the maximum death benefit given to firefighters and law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. This administration has no appreciation for the rule of law or the sacrifices of our soldiers and law enforcement in upholding it.

In a recent interview, Mr. Biden declared that the compensation was “deserved… no matter what the circumstance.” But the American public strongly disagrees. Recent polling states that 63% of voters, including 72% of independents, oppose such payments. Only 29% of voters support such a plan. This tracks closely with polling that finds only 23% of voters approve of his handling of the crisis on the southwest border. Over the last eleven months, the Biden administration has demonstrated it cannot handle the border or act in a manner that protects the American people. Indeed, Americans are still left behind in Afghanistan and fearing for their lives. 

Today, the Biden administration is telling the American people it will put them, their safety, and their laws last. It will put Americans last.

So, why is the Biden administration rewarding individuals for breaking the law? The answer can be found in a pattern of behavior the administration has demonstrated since coming into office. Simply put, the administration does not believe that immigration law should be enforced. They refuse to take the actions needed to protect the American people. They halted border wall contracts, canceled the effective Remain-in-Mexico program, placed a moratorium on removals, issued guidelines to ICE law enforcement officers restricting deportation, and released hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants into the country.  

Instead of aggressively challenging an America Last ACLU lawsuit in court, the Biden administration is looking to settle and abandon the enforcement of immigration law once again. The ACLU lawsuit is worth a closer examination. The ACLU is claiming that adults who crossed into the U.S. illegally in 2018 and were separated from their children while they were prosecuted are now entitled to a variety of relief measures that include:

1. Travel back to the U.S. at taxpayer expense, despite having no legal right to be in the U.S.

2. Remaining in the U.S. through a grant of parole, intending to create a pathway to citizenship.

3. A compensation of $450,000 per individual.

But what the ACLU and the Biden administration do not publicize is that most parents who broke the law and were removed back to their home countries (after receiving due process) had the choice to take their children with them. Most chose to leave their children in the U.S. These children were not “lost,” as President Biden has stated recently. 

The American people should expect that their government stands up for them and their laws. Fighting this frivolous lawsuit aggressively is the way to demonstrate that. 

Instead, these payouts, if advanced, will likely only incentivize future illegal behavior, even beyond unlawful border crossing, with the notion that those who break the law should be rewarded. They also send a message to America’s best and bravest serving on behalf of America, whether in far-off dangerous parts of the world or here at home, that the sacrifices they and their families make are meaningless. Just after the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and as America marks Veterans Day, this is President Biden’s shameful message.

Chad Wolf served as acting Homeland Security secretary from 2019-2021. He is Chairman of the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration at the America First Policy Institute. Keith Kellogg is a retired Army Lieutenant General who was an assistant to the president and national security advisor to President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Kellogg is the author of the new book “War By Other Means: A General in the Trump White House” (Regnery, October 19, 2021). He is currently Co-Chairman for the Center for American Security at the America First Policy Institute.

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