CNN’s Alisyn Camerota pressed White House communications director Kate Bedingfield on Friday over the number of migrants apprehended at the southern border being allowed to stay in the U.S.
Bedingfield, who appeared on “New Day,” defended the Biden administration’s attempts to deal with the increasingly high number of migrants entering the U.S., while Camerota challenged her claims on what actually was being done with the migrants. (RELATED: ‘That’s A Serious Question?’: Joe Biden Becomes Agitated With Reporter Asking About ‘Unacceptable’ Conditions In Migrant Facility)
Camerota began the topic by noting that President Joe Biden was asked questions about “the surge of unaccompanied minors at the border” during his first presidential press conference Thursday. She then asked Bedingfield to clarify if the policy was to “find placement” for unaccompanied minors in the U.S. or “to send them back to their home country.”
“The vast majority of people who show up at our border, we’re turning away. We’re turning away adults, we’re turning away the majority of families,” Bedingfield responded. “What we’re doing with unaccompanied minors … we’re treating them humanly. We are working to move them as quickly as possible out of border patrol facilities, into facilities run by HHS … and then we’re working as quickly as possible to get them connected to their family member in the United States or a vetted sponsor.”
“So they can stay? So the policy is if they show up here they can stay if they have a family member?” Camerota followed up.
Bedingfield avoided answering the question directly, reiterating the administration was “going to treat them humanely.” She added “the previous administration had policies in place that tore children from the arms of their parents,” but that Biden was not going to “treat children inhumanely.”
“Right, but humanely to you guys means not sending them back home. Is that what I’m hearing?” Camerota asked, to which Bedingfield said it means connecting them with a family member in the U.S. or with a vetted sponsor.
“When you say that the vast majority of families are being expelled, the numbers don’t bear that out. The latest numbers that we have from U.S. Borders & Customs protection show that 19,200 were encountered at the border in February, and 7,900 were expelled, so that’s less than half,” Camerota noted.
Bedingfield blamed the influx of migrants on “cyclical” and “seasonal” surges, adding the administration is turning people away at the border under Title 42, which is a provision in the U.S. code that allows for the expulsion of migrants for health related reasons. But she noted that Biden is focused on prioritizing allowing unaccompanied minors to stay for quick processing.
“When you say temporarily stay, if you’re finding families, they’re staying, right? This isn’t temporary,” Camerota stated.
“Unaccompanied children, yes, but the vast majority of people who come to the border, we’re turning them away,” Bedingfield responded.
“Great, but families — I just want to be clear because the numbers don’t bear out what you’re saying, for families, less than half are being expelled,” Camerota pointed out.
“Again, the vast majority of people, including adults who come to the border, we’re sending them back, we’re turning them away, we’re telling them they are not able to come into the United States. For unaccompanied children, and yes, you’re right, some families, we’re working to find them temporary locations so that we’re treating them humanely,” Bedingfield said, before blaming the Trump administration for dismantling the ability to handle high numbers of migrants.