White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to questions on Tuesday concerning the reopening of a migrant detention center for children on the southern U.S.border, claiming that “this is not kids being kept in cages.”
During the White House press briefing, Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki why President Joe Biden’s administration is opening the temporary facility, and noted that when former President Donald Trump’s administration did the same, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris criticized him for it. (RELATED: President Joe Biden’s Immigration Reforms Could Prompt A Surge Of Migrants At The Southern Border, Expert Says)
“First, the policy of this administration … is not to expel unaccompanied children who arrive at the border … Customs and Border Control continue to transfer unaccompanied children to the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement. That can take a couple of days,” Psaki responded. “But because of COVID-19 protocols, like social distancing requirements, the capacity at existing Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters has been significantly reduced because, of course, you can’t have a child in every bed.”
She explained that they “ensure the health and safety” of the kids who live in the facilities “for a short period of time” by adhering to spacing rules. She then stated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened the “emergency facility” to add capacity where the children “can be provided the care they need before they are safely placed with families and sponsors.”
It’s a temporary reopening,” she added. “Our intention is very much to close it, but we wanted to ensure that we can follow COVID protocols as unaccompanied minors come into the United States.”
Doocy then noted that the facility is the same one that was open under the Trump administration in 2019, after which Joe Biden claimed there were “horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages.” He added that Harris also criticized the facility saying that “babies in cages is a human rights abuse” being committed by the government. “How’s this any different than that?” he asked.
“We very much feel that way … Let me be clear here. One, there’s a pandemic going on. I’m sure you’re not suggesting that we have children right next to each other in ways that are not COVID-safe are you?” Psaki retorted.
Doocy repeated the claims by Biden and Harris about “human rights abuse” and added, “Now it’s not under Trump, it’s under Biden.”
“This is not kids being kept in cages. This is a facility that was opened that’s going to follow the same standards as other HHS facilities. It is not a replication. Certainly not. That is never our intention, of replicating the immigration policies of the past administration. But we’re in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border. That would be inhumane,” Psaki answered.
“We need to find places that are safe, under COVID protocols, for kids to be … Our goal is for them to then be transferred to families or sponsors. So this is our effort to ensure that kids are not in close proximity and that we are abiding by the health and safety standards that the government has been set out,” she concluded.