Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) condemned the newly reopened camps used to detain unaccompanied minors until they can be transferred into the country. White House press secretary Jen Psaki stands firm with the Biden administration’s decision.
“This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party,” the New York Congresswoman wrote on Wednesday:
This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party. https://t.co/AEV7s7QQnB
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 23, 2021
Psaki responded by defending the decision by President Joe Biden’s administration to reopen detainment camps for unaccompanied minors detained at the Southern border.
“Our objective is to move these kids quickly from there to vetted, sponsored families, and to places where they can safely be,” she said.
Biden promised during his 2020 campaign that he would close the facilities holding detained unaccompanied migrant children.
Psaki reassured critics that the newly reopened facility run by Heath and Human Services in Texas had been remodeled since it was open during former President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump was accused of holding “kids in cages” in these facilities.
“This facility in Texas, which has been reopened, has been revamped, there are teachers, there’s medical facilities,” she said, repeatedly assuring critics that they were not separating children from their families at the border.
Customs and Border Protection apprehended 5,871 unaccompanied minors in January, up significantly from a low of only 741 in April 2020 during the Trump administration.
Psaki said that the Biden administration had chosen the “middle option” of the different extremes. One extreme, she said, was to send the minors back to their home countries or require them to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims were processed as former President Donald Trump’s administration did. She also said there were problems with sending unaccompanied minors immediately to unvetted sponsors.
Psaki admitted that some minors were held in Customs and Border Protection facilities longer than three days, prior to getting transferred to the facilities run by Health and Human Services but assured critics that the administration would work quickly to get them released.
“I think the difficulty is what I outlined earlier, we have kids coming across the border,” she said. “It is heartbreaking. I think we all as human beings are heartbroken … we only have a couple of choices.”