The White House on Monday walks back remarks President Biden made over the weekend in referring to the influx surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border as a “crisis,” arguing that he misspoke and that he actually was implying the conditions in Central America that have led to migrants to flee, not the situation regarding minors being held in cramped jail-like detention facilities at the border.
On Saturday, Biden said that “young people” arriving “on the border” was a “crisis,” finally used the word his administration has avoided since taking office to admit that the chaotic situation at the border made it a bad time as a reason his administration decided at first not to increase refugee admissions.
“We’re going to increase the number [of refugees allowed into the country],” Biden said Saturday after a round of golf in Wilmington, Delaware, while speaking to reporters. “The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people.”
“We couldn’t do two things at once,” Biden added. “But now we are going to increase the number.”
During the daily White House press briefing, Psaki refused to reiterate her boss remarks, instead claiming that Biden actually believes that there is a crisis in Central America and not at the border, despite the ever-growing man-made crisis are quickly outpacing the 10 large emergency detention facilities the Biden administration set-up at the border are filled at capacity.
“The president does not feel that children coming to our border seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships, and other dire circumstances is a crisis,” Psaki said.
Psaki added: “He does feel that the crisis in Central America, the dire circumstances that many are fleeing from – that that is a situation we need to spend our time on, our effort on. And we need to address it if we’re going to prevent more of an influx of migrants coming in years to come.”
In regards to the refugee admissions cap, Psaki said that “people weren’t understanding what we were conveying to the public,” insisting the administration did not reverse its position. She noted that an emergency determination that Biden signed keeping the cap at 15,000 contained a caveat that indicated that “a subsequent presidential determination may be issued to increase admissions, as appropriate.”
The Biden administration had refused to use “crisis” as a descriptor to describe the dramatic influx of migrants crossing the border in record numbers, which saw a record number recorded at 172,000 migrant encounters in March alone, a 15-year record that has also overwhelmed Customs and Border Patrol resources.
Despite fielding questions daily regarding the increasing number of migrants from the Northern Triangle countries at the border, the White House for weeks had aggressively fought using the “crisis” label. During March 22 White House briefing, Psaki maintained there was no crisis at the border, delivering a statement very similar to the one she told reporters on Monday.
“Children, presenting at our border, who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing prosecution, who are fleeing terrible situations is not a crisis,” Psaki said on March 22 press briefing. “We feel that it is our responsibility to humanely approach this circumstance, and make sure they are treated and put in conditions that are safe.”
Earlier in March, Psaki declined to “put new labels on it” when first asked if the Biden admission had a crisis on the border. She again declined to use the descriptor during March 5, March 9, and March 10 press briefings when asked whether she would attribute the situation at the border to a “crisis.”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas would also refer to the situation as a “challenge,” opting to blame the Trump administration as the reason for dismantling the asylum system.
Republicans quickly pounced on Biden’s shift in terminology and his administration backtracking response.
“After nearly 100 days of ignoring the border crisis he created, Joe Biden finally told the truth this weekend by deeming the situation at the border a “crisis.” However, Biden Administration officials are now backtracking the President’s own words, claiming that Joe Biden acknowledging the crisis “doesn’t represent the administration’s official position.” In another 100 days, Joe Biden might even admit his open borders and amnesty agenda created this crisis – until his team backtracks once again,” NRSC Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said in a statement Monday after Psaki’s briefing.