‘The president does not feel that children coming to our border, seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships and other dire circumstances is a crisis,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at Monday’s briefing. ‘He does feel the crisis in Central America, the dire circumstances that many are fleeing from, that that is a situation 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 coming in years to come.’
An unnamed White House official used nearly identical language earlier Monday in a CNN report.
President Joe Biden used the word ‘crisis’ in comments he made about the southern border and the refugee cap Saturday from a golf course in Wilmington, Delaware
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that Biden ‘does not feel that children coming to our border, seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships and other dire circumstances is a crisis’
Migrant families from Central America and border patrol agents were photographed last week in La Joya, Texas
‘No, there is no change in position. Children coming to our border seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships and other dire circumstances is not a crisis,’ a White House official told the cable network.
For weeks, Biden administration officials have been pushed to define the influx of migrants a ‘crisis’ – a term they’ve resisted.
But the president slipped up Saturday and used the word when talking about a decision to not yet raise the refugee cap.
‘We’re gonna increase the numbers,’ Biden said, ‘The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people and we couldn’t do two things at once.’
‘And now we’re going to increase the numbers,’ Biden said of admitting refugees to the U.S.
Psaki spent a chunk of Monday’s briefing cleaning up the administration’s Friday rollout of the refugree policy, calling the original 62,500 refugees an ‘aspirational increase.’
On Friday the administration announced it would keep the cap at the Trump-era 15,000 – but with the caveat that the cap would be raised once those 15,000 people were admitted.
On Monday, like the president, Psaki tied that decision to the influx of migrants the government had to deal with at the U.S.-Mexico border.
‘There was an increase of unaccompanied children at the border,’ Psaki pointed out. ‘Our policy was always going to welcome those children in, find a place where they can be sheltered humanely and safely.’
‘That increase and that influx, as you all know, was higher than most people, including us, anticipated,’ she said.
When asked about Biden’s use of ‘crisis,’ she pointed to how the federal government has made ‘some progress’ in moving unaccompanied children from Customs and Border Protection facilities to those run by Health and Human Services.
Psaki said 1,000 children were moved into HHS care this weekend alone.
‘That is a step forward in our view,’ the press secretary said.
Psaki was previously guilty of her own ‘crisis’ slip-up, using the term in a briefing in March when asked if the government would be sending doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which doesn’t yet have approval to be used in the U.S., to Mexico.
Psaki was also asked if the U.S. had made any demands of Mexico, such as cooperation on immigration matters, in exchange for vaccines.
‘There have been expectations set outside of, unrelated to, any vaccine doses or requests for them, that they would be partners in dealing with the crisis on the border,’ she answered.