Fox News reporter Peter Doocy on Monday pressed Jen Psaki over the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) involvement in handling migrants at the southern U.S. border.
During the White House press briefing, Doocy questioned Psaki on whether or not FEMA’s involvement constitutes the situation at the border being “a disaster.” (RELATED: Texas Democratic Rep. Avoids Answering Question On Biden Administration ‘Encouraging’ Migrants To Travel To US)
“Does FEMA’s arrival at the border mean that the administration feels what is happening down at the border is a disaster?” Doocy began.
“I know that we always get into the fun of labels around here. But I would say our focus is on solutions, and this is one of the steps that the president felt would help not become a final solution, but help expedite processing, help ensure that people who are coming across the border have access to health and medical care,” Psaki responded. “Clearly, the numbers are enormous. This is a big challenge and it certainly is a reflection of using every lever of the federal government to help address that.”
Doocy pointed out that FEMA’s mission is to help people “before, during, and after disasters.” He noted that the press has heard Psaki say the situation at the border was “a problem” and “a challenge,” before asking, “is it now a disaster?”
Psaki responded saying that she liked Doocy’s mask, seemingly to delay answering the question, before stating that “FEMA is there to help ensure people who are at the border” have access to shelters, and can swiftly be placed with “vetted families,” likely referring to unaccompanied children. “They are playing a number of roles there to address what we feel is a significant problem and a significant challenge, and I think we haven’t … been hiding about that,” she added.
“DHS said that the FEMA plan for 90 days would be to receive, shelter, and transfer unaccompanied children. Does that mean that the federal government now is moving beyond the message of the last couple of weeks, which was now is not the time to come?” Doocy asked.
“No, we are doing both, and it’s a complicated problem. No doubt about it. We are sending the message clearly in the region. Now is not the time to come. But also we want to ensure that people are treated with humanity who are children, who were unaccompanied children, that’s who we are as a country, and so we are doing both,” Psaki concluded.
The Biden administration has faced increasing pressure over the crisis at the southern border as the number of migrants detained while attempting to come to the U.S. has continued to rise. Earlier in March, the U.S. reached a record high number of migrant children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and over 100,000 migrants were encountered in the month of February.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Saturday directed FEMA to support efforts to help accompanied minors at the border.