White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused Tuesday to confirm reports that the number of detained unaccompanied minors at the border had tripled since Biden became president.
“I’m not going to confirm numbers from here,” Psaki said during the White House press briefing. “Obviously, the Department of Homeland Security and others are–oversee the programs and the engagements that happen at the border.
Psaki was repeatedly questioned about the number of unattended minors in custody by the border control as reporters noted that the numbers had tripled just in the last two weeks to over 3,200 — more children held in detention centers at a single time than during President Donald Trump’s presidency.
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.”
“Jen, why won’t you confirm that number?” one reporter asked. “That’s a very important number.”
Psaki repeatedly referred reporters to the Department of Homeland Security.
“But we’ve talked to them, Jen,” the reporter replied. “They won’t confirm the numbers.”
“I would encourage you to go back to them and ask them again,” Psaki replied. “We’re not going to confirm them are from the White House. It’s not our program.”
The White House is tracking the numbers of kids at the border, as they repeatedly deny that there is a crisis taking place on their watch.
“Look, I don’t think we need to sit here and put new labels on what we have already conveyed is challenging,” Psaki said, when asked if the numbers at the border had reached the level of a crisis.
She said the detained children would be moved “as quickly as possible” from the Border Patrol facilities to shelters where they could have educational resources, health resources, mental health resources, and legal aid.
Psaki told reporters that they would open up the migrant facilities in the future to reporters to see the centers personally.
“We’re committed to doing that,” she said, but added she did not have a timeline for when that would be.
“We want to do it with respect for the privacy of the people staying there, people who are being housed there, but also abiding by COVID protocols,” she added.