Psaki Claims Reopening Border Facility for Immigrant Children Not a ‘Replication’ of Trump Admin Facilities

Connor Grant | February 24, 2021
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During a White House press conference on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was pressed about the reopening of a border facility to house unaccompanied immigrant children, a move previously criticized by Democrats. 

Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked the press secretary, “Why is the Biden Administration reopening a temporary facility for migrant children in Texas?”

“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 stammered. “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.”

Psaki further explained that the facility will hold the immigrant children for a “short period of time” so they “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 pressed Psaki on the subject asking, “But it’s the same facility that was open for a month in the Trump Administration. Summer 2019 that is when Joe Biden said, “Under Trump there have been horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages” and Kamala Harris said basically, "babies in cages is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States Government." So how is this any different than that?”

“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 responded.

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Rather than directly responding, Doocy remained focused on the Biden Administration’s hypocrisy repeating Harris and Biden’s statements condemning Trump’s border facilities. “Now it’s not under Trump, it’s under Biden,” said Doocy.

“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,” Psaki answered. “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.”

“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,” the press secretary concluded.

On Tuesday, it was reported that border officials conservatively estimate each child will remain in the facility for approximately 30 days to allow time for processing and quarantining.