Reason Roundup

Joe Biden Says Families Separated at Border Won't Be Receiving $450,000 Settlements

Plus: Children's vaccine passports in San Francisco, investors' inflation fears are on the rise, and more...


President Joe Biden is playing hardball with migrant families that were separated at the border by the last administration. On Wednesday, the president said that these families would not be receiving $450,000 payments as compensation for being split up.

The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that the U.S. Department of Justice was considering the $450,000 payouts to settle lawsuits with families who'd sued the U.S. government over the separations that had occurred under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy for illegal border crossings.

These lawsuits allege that the policy—which saw the parents arrested and the children taken into custody by immigration officials, often with no plan to reunite them—led to children being housed in unsafe or unsanitary conditions, resulting in a range of negative mental and physical health impacts.

Biden forcefully condemned family separations on the campaign trail, calling the zero-tolerance policy that led to them "criminal" and running ads featuring migrant children in immigration detention facilities.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, Biden said that compensation for that criminal policy is a bit less than what news reports had suggested.

"$450,000 per person? Is that what you're saying?" the president said at a press conference, Politico reported. "That's not going to happen."

The Journal notes that the $450,000 settlements were already proving controversial within the Justice Department, with some considering the figure excessive. One government lawyer reportedly had his name taken off the case because of the amount of compensation being considered.

It's estimated that about 5,500 families were separated at the border by the Trump administration, but only 940 have thus far submitted claims for compensation.

Immigration advocates were quick to condemn the president's remarks yesterday.

"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," said American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "We respectfully remind President Biden that he called these actions 'criminal' in a debate with then-President Trump, and campaigned on remedying and rectifying the lawlessness of the Trump administration."

The ACLU is representing families in one of the lawsuits filed against the government.

This is not the first time that the Biden administration has disappointed activists on the issue of immigration.

Several of them dramatically logged off a Zoom meeting with White House officials in October over the administration's court-ordered revival of the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy, which requires people seeking asylum to stay in Mexico while waiting for a court hearing on their claims.

The Biden administration has also left in place another Trump administration policy that allows border agents to immediately expel migrants on the grounds they pose a public health threat during the COVID-19 pandemic. That policy, which the administration initially considered getting rid of, has led to more than 1 million people being expelled from the U.S. since it was first implemented in March 2020.


Even before the ink has dried on federal approval of COVID-19 vaccines for young children, San Francisco is already forcing these tykes into its vaccine passport system. On Tuesday, San Francisco Health Officer Susan Philip said that the city's preexisting requirement that people show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms, and other public places would soon be extended to children between the ages of 5 and 11, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Philip said that the new requirement wouldn't be imposed right away in order to give families time to vaccinate their kids, but that it was indeed coming.

"There will be a limited time where there will not be those requirements. But there will be a point where children will also have to show proof of vaccination to access some of those settings," she said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 last week.

Requiring proof of vaccination to enter public businesses is already a dodgy policy. COVID-19 vaccines provide tremendous private benefits to the vaccinated by preventing severe cases and deaths. They're less effective at preventing infections and transmission of the virus, suggesting that separating the vaccinated from the unvaccinated doesn't provide much of a public health benefit.

On top of that, young children are the age group at least risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. Vox noted last month that the number of children who die from the virus is roughly equivalent to the number of children who die of the flu and pneumonia, and is far lower than the number who die of heart disease, drownings, firearms, and car accidents.


Investors are increasingly worried that persistent inflation will cause the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to assure traders that the Fed would not be raising rates too aggressively to combat rising prices, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The paper notes that not all investors were mollified by the news:

Some investors still think persistent inflation may force officials to raise rates several times in 2022. The yield on the two-year U.S. Treasury, which tends to rise and fall with expectations for rate increases, held near 0.5%, its highest level since March 2020. Yields rise as bond prices fall….

"People are concerned these high prices might last longer than the time frames that the Fed is mentioning," said Mohit Bajaj, director of exchange-traded fund trading solutions at WallachBeth Capital. Steady inflation and expectations for higher rates could specifically curb some enthusiasm for shares of fast-growing companies such as electric auto maker Tesla Inc. that continue to power major indexes higher, he said.


• The FDA continues to make it difficult for Americans to get their hands on rapid COVID-19 tests, a new ProPublica investigation has found.

• The drug molnupiravir, a pill designed to treat COVID-19 infections, receives approval from regulators in the United Kingdom.

• New York City Mayor–elect Eric Adams wants to "revisit" the city's vaccine mandate for municipal workers.

• Higher meat prices are leading some grocery stores to put theft prevention stickers on their chops and fillets.

• New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy looks like he'll pull off a narrow win against Republican opponent Jack Ciattarelli. The tightness of the race in such a deep blue state is not good news for Democrats.

• The Democrats looking to revive the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, an effective subsidy for higher state and local taxes, all happen to represent wealthy districts. Higher-income earners would be the biggest beneficiaries of a SALT revival.