Thursday, August 5, 2021

Psaki walks back Biden calling youth border surge a crisis

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WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said President Biden misspoke when he said there’s a crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the US-Mexico border.

Biden said Saturday that “young people” arriving “on the border” was a “crisis.” But Psaki said at her daily press briefing that Biden actually doesn’t believe that.

Biden used the word, which administration officials carefully avoid, while explaining the White House’s Friday decision not to immediately increase refugee admissions. He said conditions at the border made it a bad time to expand eligibility.

“The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once,” Biden said.

But Psaki told reporters that Biden actually believes there’s a crisis in Central America and not at the border, where many young migrants are held in cramped, jail-like facilities.

Asylum seeking unaccompanied minors await transport by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on a raft in La Joya, Texas on March 14, 2021.
Jen Psaki said Joe Biden misspoke when he said the amount of unaccompanied minors at the border was a crisis.
EUTERS/Adrees Latif

Psaki said, “The president does not feel that children coming to our border seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships and other dire circumstances is a crisis.”

Young minors lie inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility on March 30, 2021.
Many young migrants are held in cramped, jail-like facilities near the US border.
AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, Pool, File

She added: “He does feel that the crisis in Central America, the dire circumstances that many are fleeing from, that that is a situation that we need to spend our time, our effort on and we need to address it if we’re going to prevent more of an influx of migrants from coming in years to come.”

Unaccompanied minor migrants rest on the ground while waiting to be transported by the U.S. Border Patrols on April 7, 2021.
Psaki said Biden believes the crisis is in Central America — not at the border.
REUTERS/Go Nakamura

Biden last month tasked Vice President Kamala Harris with addressing the “root causes” of the crisis. Harris has spoken by phone with the leaders of Guatemala and Mexico, but she has not visited the border or spoken with the leaders of El Salvador and Honduras. Last week, Harris said she plans to visit Latin America, but a date has not been announced.

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