- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2021

Two-thirds of American voters disapprove of the Biden administration’s plans to pay illegal immigrants $450,000 for “trauma” stemming from having their families separated during the Trump administration’s zero tolerance border policy, according to a new poll Monday.

Even among Democrats, disapproval outpaced approval of the idea, according to the poll by the Trafalgar group, taken for Convention of States Action, a conservative organization.

Among Republicans, the idea was deeply unpopular, with 85% of those surveyed “strongly” disapproving.

The polling is the first public measure of the payments the Biden Justice Department has been negotiating with organizations representing thousands of illegal immigrants who were caught up in the zero tolerance policy.

President Biden last week first denied the payments, calling the initial report in The Wall Street Journal “garbage.” He later acknowledged the payments were being discussed and said they were a worthy idea, and insisted the “garbage” comment was in reference to the $450,000 figure. He said it should be lower.

“If in fact, because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you were coming across the border, whether it was legal or illegal, and you lost your child — you lost your child — it’s gone — you deserve some kind of compensation, no matter what the circumstance,” he said.

The Trafalgar poll doesn’t delve that deeply into the matter, so it’s not clear whether opposition is based on the dollar amount or the principle of paying illegal immigrants.

The poll, of 1,086 likely voters, taken Nov. 1 to Nov. 4, found 18.7% approved of $450,000 payments, though just 8.7% were “strongly” in support. And 66.9% disapproved, with 56% of those “strongly” opposed. The rest were unsure.

Family separations came out of then-President Trump’s get-tough approach to illegal border crossings by families, who were exploiting a loophole that allowed many adults who brought their children to be caught and released into communities.

Under the zero tolerance policy, Homeland Security and the Justice Department decided to prosecute the parents for illegal entry, a misdemeanor. That meant jailing them — and since there are no family facilities in federal jails, the children were separated and put into government-run shelters.

But the government lacked the capacity to reunite the families after the parents were released from jail, and in many cases parents were deported without their children.

The government is still trying to reunite some families, and the Biden administration has announced plans to readmit deported parents to give them a new chance to claim asylum or make a case for being allowed to stay.

The Journal reported the total payout to illegal immigrants could top $1 billion.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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