White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday was confronted by a reporter on the Biden administration's apparent hypocrisy for reopening a temporary facility for migrant children in Texas closed by the previous administration.
President Joe Biden's administration reopened the temporary Influx Care Facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to care for children, mostly teenagers age 13-17, who arrive at the border unaccompanied by a parent. The facility is capable of holding roughly 700 children with coronavirus safety measures implemented.
The site has been inactive since July 2019, when it was closed by President Donald Trump's administration after fierce criticism by Democrats that this facility and others like it treated migrant children inhumanely.
During Tuesday's press briefing, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Psaki why the Biden administration was reopening the facility.
Psaki said the policy of the Biden administration is "not to expel unaccompanied children who arrive at the border." She said Customs and Border Patrol transfers migrant children to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement. She explained that COVID-19 protocols have reduced the capacity at existing facilities to hold migrant children, so this facility was reopened to accommodate the overflow.
"To ensure the health and safety of these kids, HHS took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity where these children can be provided with the care they need before they are safely placed with families and sponsors," Psaki said.
According to the Associated Press, HHS operates several long-term facilities to process unaccompanied minor aliens apprehended by Border Patrol. Almost all of the nearly 7,100 beds at these facilities are reportedly full, requiring the administration to reopen temporary housing for these migrants.
Following up, Doocy reminded Psaki that in summer 2019, when the prior administration operated this facility, then-candidate Biden accused President Trump of keeping kids in cages and Kamala Harris said the Trump administration was keeping "babies in cages" and committing a "human rights abuse."
"How is this any different?" Doocy asked.
Peter Doocy just asked why Biden is opening up new "cages" for children at the border when he and Kamala referred t… https://t.co/JDD3GiyUdD
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"We very much feel that way," Psaki replied, speaking of the accusations thrown at the Trump administration. "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?" she fired back at Doocy.
"I'm suggesting that Kamala Harris said that putting people in this facility was 'a human rights abuse committed by the United States government' and Joe Biden said, 'Under Trump there have been horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages.' Now it's not under Trump, it's under Biden," Doocy fired back.
"This is not kids being kept in cages," Psaki asserted. "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, that was never our intention of replicating the immigration policies of the past administration. But we are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border. That would be inhumane. That is not what we are going to do here as an administration."
Continuing, she said that once the migrant children receive medical care they will be transferred to their families or sponsors.