Although President Joe Biden entered office with a promise of “transparency,” his administration appears to be doing everything possible to downplay the emerging immigration crisis along the nation’s southern border.
During a recent news conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to confirm data regarding a reported spike in arrivals by unaccompanied children threatening to overwhelm the system.
“A top priority for the president”
“I don’t think we need to sit here and put new labels on what we have already conveyed is challenging, what we have conveyed is a top priority for the president, what our policy teams are working on every single day,” she said in response to a question regarding whether the situation has become a “crisis” yet.
CBS News reporter Nancy Cordes wondered if reports of 3,200 migrant children in custody is an accurate estimate, though Psaki declined anything more specific than her confirmation that there had been an “increase” in such arrivals.
She went on to instruct reporters to contact the Department of Homeland Security, though Cordes noted that she had already attempted to get a straight answer out of that agency to no avail.
In an apparent attempt to deflect, Psaki chimed in with rhetoric about the “root causes” of increased migration from Central America.
“Go back to them and ask them again”
“I would encourage you to go back to them and ask them again,” she added. “We’re not going to confirm them from the White House. It’s not our program. We certainly encourage transparency, but what I also think is important is to talk about the root causes here.”
In the wake of reports showing that thousands of children are in Customs and Border Protection custody in facilities meant for adults, with roughly half being kept beyond the 72-hour legal limit, it is not hard to see why the Biden team might want to remain equivocal on the subject.
The president has thus far refused to publicly acknowledge a border crisis, though his administration’s actions tell a different story.
As Psaki acknowledged, the White House is pleading with migrants to remain in their homelands.
“Now, the circumstances in a lot of these countries is such that the parents feel taking that risk is better than the circumstances they’re living through,” she said. “But we are very clear about this message in the region, that this is not the time to come, that this is a dangerous journey.”