White House press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed by a reporter Monday over President Joe Biden’s apparent backtrack 0n maintaining the cap on the number of refugees allowed into the U.S.
Fox News’ Kristin Fisher questioned Psaki on the planned increase in the refugee cap during the daily White House press briefing, asking her why the president seemed to change his mind within a matter of hours from deciding to maintain the current cap, to saying it would be increased by May 15. (RELATED: ‘Caved In The Space Of Minutes’: Stephen Miller Says Biden Captive To Far Left On ‘Inordinately Expensive’ Policy)
“I’m still just a little bit confused about what changed between 1:00 p.m. on Friday and around 4:30 p.m. on Friday to go from ‘we’re not raising the refugee cap’ to ‘we are raising it by May 15.’ What changed in those three and a half hours?” Fisher began by asking Psaki.
“We never said we’re not raising the refugee cap. In the morning we said … that once we reach 15,000, we will raise it,” Psaki responded. “That was not accounted for in … how people were digesting the information, and we wanted to be clear and send a message that we are a country that is welcoming refugees.”
Fisher then asked if the change in the decision had anything to do with the “pushback” from Democrats, such as Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who both criticized the initial decision to maintain the current cap. Psaki interrupted Fisher, ignoring the question, claiming the reporter hadn’t said what the administration’s change in position was on the cap. “What was our change in policy from the morning to afternoon?” she asked.
“The executive order from Friday morning said that the admission of up to 15,000 refugees remains justified, period. And yes, there was a caveat that you could raise that cap later, but, I mean, it explicitly says —” Fisher began before being interrupted by Psaki again, who said, “That’s a pretty important caveat that when we reach 15,000 a subsequent presidential determination could be made.”
Psaki went on to say that is was “incumbent” on the administration to make sure people understand what Biden’s policies are, and that he’s “going to welcome in refugees from around the world,” in addition to changing the policies from former President Donald Trump’s administration by welcoming refugees specifically from Africa and the Middle East.
Fisher attempted again to ask Psaki about the pushback by some Democrats, but Psaki interrupted her again, saying that Fisher still hadn’t articulated what the administration’s change in policy was on the cap.
“That’s not my job to do that,” Fisher said, to which Psaki responded, “It is if you’re asking the question.”
“I’m asking about the pushback from progressives on Capitol Hill,” Fisher said, but Psaki responded by asking again what the administration’s policy change was.
“The change from the morning to the afternoon was that you explicitly said that the admission of up to 15,000 refugees remains justified. In the afternoon you said that the president would be raising the cap on, or before, May 15,” Fisher said.
“In the morning we also said that if 15,000 is reached, a subsequent presidential determination would be issued to increase admissions. That was not clearly understood. We felt it was incumbent upon us to make sure people understood and were clear that our objective was to welcome in more refugees, and we remain committed to our goal,” Psaki concluded.
Biden, who was on track to accept fewer refugees in his first year in office than Trump, was planning to maintain the the refugee cap already in place, The New York Times reported Friday morning. By Friday afternoon, the administration backtracked on the decision and announced they would set a “final, increased” cap by May 15. Biden reiterated his position on refugees Saturday saying that the number of refugees coming into the U.S would be increased.