White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the decision by President Joe Biden’s administration to reopen a detention center for migrant children on Monday.
More than 200 migrant teenagers on Monday were sent to a reopened facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, according to CBS News, with plans to expand the number of detained children to 700 in facilities across the country.
Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris strongly condemned such facilities during the 2020 presidential campaign, accusing former President Donald Trump of putting children and “babies in cages.”
“Under Trump, there have been horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages, tear-gassing asylum seekers, ripping children from their mothers’ arms,” Biden wrote in an op-ed in the Miami Herald in 2019, accusing Trump of “actions that subvert American values and erode our ability to lead on the global stage.”
Biden promised during the campaign that he would close the facilities holding detained unaccompanied migrant children. Biden also falsely claimed that during the Obama-Biden administration “we didn’t lock people up in cages.” The administration had, in fact, built those cages. Breitbart News first revealed cramped facilities full of migrant children in 2014, during Obama and Biden’s second term.
Psaki blamed coronavirus social distancing requirements for the need to expand the facilities for unaccompanied children apprehended at the border.
“It’s a temporary reopening during COVID-19,” she said referring to the decision to reopen the facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas. “Our intention is very much to close it.”
She refused to accept the idea that the facilities were similar to that of the previous administration.
“This is not kids being kept in cages,” she said. “This is a facility that was opened that is going to follow the same standards as other HHS facilities.”
Psaki said the facilities were reopened because of coronavirus restrictions.
“That was never our intention of replicating the immigration policies of the past administration,” she said.
She did not mention the spike in border crossings by unaccompanied minors since Biden became president.
Customs and Border Protection apprehended 5,871 unaccompanied minors in January, up dramatically from a low of only 741 in April 2020 during the Trump administration.
An HHS official admitted to CBS News that they were preparing extra capacity in the facilities to handle the surge of children.
“We don’t know how many kids are going to be coming in the upcoming days, or weeks or months, and so we have to make sure that our contingency plans include preparing for even more bed space than we think we might need,” the HHS official said.
Biden restarted the Catch and Release Release border program the day of his inauguration. The Department of Homeland Security is now releasing border crossers into the United States without Chinese coronavirus tests.