White House hits back at claims it is caging children of migrants two years after Trump scandal

More than 5,700 unaccompanied children apprehended crossing border in January

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Wednesday 24 February 2021 20:17
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Arizona border towns preparing for influx of migrants

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The White House has hit back at claims it is caging children of migrants two years after the Trump border separation scandal.

The president’s press secretary defended the administration from allegations it has continued a similar detention policy that was much maligned by Democrats under the ex-president.

The Biden administration has just reopened an emergency facility for migrant children in Carrizo Springs, Texas, because of the extra space needed to observe Covid protocols. 

It will hold 700 youngsters between the age of 13 and 17, the Washington Post reported. 

Jen Psaki defended the move from allegations of hypocrisy when asked by Peter Doocy of Fox News if it was just a case of “kids in containers rather than kids in cages.”

Ms Psaki refused to accept the comparison between the Biden administration’s approach to that of Donald Trump, which sparked widespread outrage.

“We have a number of unaccompanied minors, children who are coming into the country without their families,” said Ms Psaki at the daily briefing on Wednesday.

“What we are not doing, what the last administration did, was separate those kids, rip them from the arms of their parents at the border.  We are not doing that, that is immoral and is not the approach of this administration.”

Ms Psaki explained that the administration had a narrow range of options to deal with the issue and wanted to quickly move children from Customs and Border Patrol detention to Department of Health and Human Services facilities.

“We can send them back home and do a dangerous journey back, we are not doing that either, that is also putting them at risk,” she added.

“We can quickly transfer them from CBP to these HHS run facilities, that is one option. 

“Or we can put them with families and sponsors without any vetting, there were some problems that that process ran into as well.”

She added that the new facilities were a significant upgrade over the ones used under Mr Trump.

“This facility in Texas that has been reopened has been revamped, there are teachers, there is medical facilities, and our objective is to move these kids quickly from there to vetted, sponsored families and to places where they can safely be,” she said.

“This is a difficult situation and a difficult choice, that’s the choice we have made.”

She was then asked by Mr Doocy why some children had been kept in CBP facilities for more than the legally allowed 72 hours.

Ms Psaki replied that some children had been delayed because of the record-breaking cold snap in Texas that had knocked out power to some facilities.

And she pushed back on a tweet by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that attacked the Biden administration for opening the new facility.

“This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay - no matter the administration or party,” wrote the New York congresswoman. 

“I have not see the full context of the tweet that she shared, but the difficulty is what I outlined earlier,” said Ms Psaki.

“We have kids coming across border, it is heartbreaking, I think we as human beings are heartbroken and as parents, as mothers and fathers too. 

“We only have a couple of choices. What we are not doing is dividing these kids and separating from their parents at the border, which is what the last administration did and why President Biden was outspoken at the time about these kids being pulled away from their parents. 

“What we are doing is working as quickly as possible to process these kids into these HHS facilities which have been revamped educational and medical facilities so that we can then transfer them to families, that is our approach.”

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