White House Senior Adviser Cedric Richmond would not confirm nor deny that the Biden administration would be making payments to illegal immigrants who were separated from their children under the Trump administration, but insisted that President Biden is up to speed on the situation despite seemingly contradictory comments on the subject.
On Wednesday, Biden had denied that a report about possible $450,000 payments to people separated from their families was real, leading the ACLU to claim that he “may not have been fully briefed” about what the Department of Justice was doing. On Saturday, the president came out in support of payments.
“The president’s in the loop,” Richmond told “Fox News Sunday,” noting that Biden said all along that his Justice Department would be independent.
Biden’s claim that the payments were not real came in response to a question from Fox News’ Peter Doocy, who asked whether they would incentivize illegal immigration.
“If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah. But it’s not true,” Biden responded.
On Saturday, however, Biden said an immigrant – legal or illegal – would “deserve some sort of compensation no matter what the circumstances” if they were separated from their child.
Richmond claimed that this was not a contradiction because when Biden responded to Doocy’s question, he was really saying that “it was an absurd question from the beginning” because “no one’s coming somewhere to lose their child.” This, despite Biden stating that “yeah,” it would be an incentive if it were true, insisting that it was false.
When asked by “Fox News Sunday” guest host Bill Hemmer how much the payments would be, Richmond said did not have that information, nor would he confirm that there would even be any payments.
“That’s for the Justice Department to decide,” he said, “if it shows that it saves taxpayers money, if it rights a wrong, and the Justice Department determines that there is compensation that should be paid. That is an independent Justice Department.”
Earlier in the interview, Richmond spoke about the $1.75 trillion social spending bill that Democrats are trying to pass. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., noted that despite the advertised price tag, a Wharton School analysis said it would really cost more along the lines of $4 trillion. Richmond insisted that this estimate was based on a previous version of the bill, as well as “assumptions that are just not factual” regarding what Congress would do in the future.
Richmond said that passing the bill is of the utmost importance, citing economists who said it would help with inflation and ongoing supply chain problems.
“We need to get it done. We need to get it done now,” he said.