Amid criticism over the reopening of a Trump-era migrant children’s facility, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it was a “difficult decision” to reopen the Carrizo Springs, Texas facility, but the best option available.
The administration opened a facility to house up to 700 immigrant teens after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border without the company of a parent. The first teens arrived Monday in Carrizo Springs, which became a detention center two years ago under former President Donald Trump, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The facility has been closed since July 2019.
“Are they children in containers instead of children in cages?” Peter Doocy of Fox News asked Psaki.
“We have several unaccompanied minors who enter the country without their families,” Psaki replied. “What we are not doing is what the last administration did, which was to separate these children, tear them from the arms of their parents at the border.”
THE AOC COMES TO BIDEN ADMIN TO REOPEN THE FACILITY FOR MIGRANT CHILDREN: ‘THIS IS NOT GOOD’
Psaki said there were limited options on how to handle children arriving alone at the border: sending them home on a “dangerous journey,” quickly placing them with families and patrons who have not been screened, or reopening detention facilities. .
A growing number of children have been taken into migrant custody along the southern border in recent days, putting the government’s ability to house them to the test.
Psaki added that the new facilities for migrant children had been opened to accommodate social distancing. He stressed that the detention facilities were run by HHS and had been “renovated” and equipped with teachers and a medical team.
Doocy also asked Psaki about reports that Customs and Border Patrol detained hundreds of children in a temporary facility for more than 72 hours, the legal limit before they must be transferred to an HHS facility. Psaki said there were delays due to weather and a lack of capacity to handle the influx of children. “Some unfortunately stayed four days, five days or more, but the goal is to move them as quickly as possible to an HHS sponsored facility.”
PSAKI DEFENDS REOPENING OF MIGRANT FACILITIES
Progressives stormed the new migrant facility. “This is not right, it’s never been right, it will never be right, regardless of the administration or the party,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
She added: “It’s only been 2 months in this administration and our strained and unfair immigration system will not be transformed at that time. That is why bold reimagining is so impt. DHS shouldn’t exist, agencies should reorganize, ICE has to go – detention for profit, creating climate refugee status and more. “
Biden has said that his immigration agenda “will take time” to implement to avoid a surge at the border. Weeks in office, he signed executive orders establishing a task force to reunite families who had been separated and begin a review of the Trump-era program that required migrants at the southern border to remain in Mexico while their applications were processed. of asylum.
The Trump administration imposed a “zero tolerance” policy that led to family separations, meaning that anyone caught crossing the border illegally will be criminally prosecuted, even if they have little or no prior convictions. The policy sparked thousands of family separations and reports that some families have yet to meet today.
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Under this policy, adults are brought before the courts for criminal proceedings, while their children are separated from them. If the charges took more than 72 hours to process, the children would be sent from Customs and Border Protection care to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Trump, however, signed an order to stop family separations in 2018.
Brooke Singman of Fox News contributed to this report.