Politics

Pete Buttigieg Says Separated Migrant Families Deserve ‘Compensation’ From US

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said at an Iowa town hall event Sunday that migrant families the U.S. government separated deserve “compensation.”

“Can you imagine if you’ve been taken away from your parents and didn’t know where they are?” Buttigieg said in Charles City, Iowa, according to the Washington Examiner. “The United States owes something to the kids in that situation. First of all, of course, to swiftly reunite them with their families. But we probably owe them a little more than that given what we’ve done. In fact, we definitely we owe them more than that.”

“We need to make sure that they have compensation and that we do things to try to make it right,” he continued, but did not stipulate what such compensation would entail.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was referring to the result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. Faced with a massive immigration crisis, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions signed the measure in April 2018, which directed attorneys at the southern border to dramatically increase its prosecution of illegal border crossers.

U.S. Democratic presidential contenders attend a party dinner

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a Democratic Party fundraising dinner, the Liberty and Justice Celebration, in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., Nov. 1, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Following zero tolerance’s implementation, criminal charges rocketed as a higher number of migrant parents also faced prosecution. A consequence of this, however, was that migrant families began to be separated as U.S. authorities took parents into custody and transferred their children to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Amid intense backlash, Trump signed an executive order in June 2018 that ordered migrant families to be detained together.

Buttigieg is not the first person to call on the U.S. government to provide compensation to these families. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in early October, demanding the Trump administration provide punitive and compensatory damages to separated family members.

Buttigieg also touted during the town hall event Sunday the idea of “community renewal visas,” which would promote migration into communities with declining or lagging populations. (RELATED: Obama-Appointed Judge Blocks Trump’s Health Care Rule For Immigrants)

“Another thing we’re proposing is what we call ‘community renewal visas.’ And the idea is that if a community gets together and says, ‘We need more people,’ then you would apply for an allotment of community renewal visas that will then be issued to people who commit that they will bring their skills and their resources to live in an area for a certain fixed amount of time to really contribute to the community,” he said to an attendee.

Buttigieg’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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