Psaki was skewered by reporters on Tuesday after the Biden administration reopened a migrant detention facility that had been closed in 2019 under former president Donald Trump.
The press secretary floundered as she attempted to defend Biden’s stated policy “not to expel unaccompanied children who arrive at the border” by putting those children back in the “cages” – actually shipping containers – he had so vociferously denounced when they were used by his predecessor.
“This is not kids being kept in cages,” Psaki insisted, arguing “this is a facility that was reopened that is going to follow the same standards as other [Department of Health and Human Services] facilities.”
Rather than detention, the facility’s reopening was all for the safety of the immigrant teens, Psaki claimed, insisting that “we are in a circumstance that we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the borders” and “the administration very much feels that way” – that is, opposed to turning incarcerated migrant minors loose at the border.
“We need to find places that are safe under COVID protocols for kids to be, where they can have access to education, health and mental services, consistent with their best interests,” she said.
While a handful of Biden supporters had rallied to Psaki’s aid on social media, suggesting the shipping-container cells were a step up from “cages” because they offered privacy, they avoided addressing the issue that those facilities had offered the same “privacy” under Trump, back when they were denounced as human rights violations. More clear-eyed Democrats and migrant advocates, on the other hand, slammed the reopening of the 700-child facility as “absolutely against everything Biden promised he was going to do.”
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