Peter Doocy Schools Jen Psaki: So If This Isn’t ‘Kids in Cages,’ Is It ‘Kids in Containers?’

After making his mark during Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Fox News’s Peter Doocy again tussled Wednesday with Press Secretary Jen Psaki over illegal immigration, wondering whether the term “kids in containers” was more apt for the detaining of illegal immigrant children since Psaki was turned off (read: triggered) by the description of “kids in cages.”

Doocy started with this: “We spoke yesterday about immigration and this facility — HHS facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas for migrant children. And you said it is not kids in cages. We’ve seen some photos now of containers. Is there a better description? Is it kids in containers, instead of kids in cages? What is the White House’s description of this facility.”

 

 

Clearly not amused, Psaki insisted she would “give a broader description of what’s happening here” where they were not and would not “separate” and “rip” kids “from the arms of their parents at the border” but instead “expand and open additional facilities, because there was not enough space in the existing facilities — and if we were to abide by COVID protocols, that’s the process and the step.”

She added how children were also having access to an education and medical care, so it was different than whatever the Trump administration did. Coincidentally, in-person education is something younger American citizens haven’t been able to get for almost a year thanks to teachers unions.

Doocy saw through Psaki’s spin, so he called out the living conditions at these supposedly terrific detention centers. In response, Psaki went personal by wondering if Doocy was concerned about being accurate with viewers (click “expand”):

DOOCY: So just one step back from that, we’ve been talking to people down at the border who say that right now, DHS and the border patrol are using the same kind of facilities now that they did during the Trump administration and that there’s a facility right now, it’s in Donna, Texas, instead of McAllen, Texas, but it’s tents and chain link fence around it and so —

PSAKI: A CBP facility before they’re transferred to the HHS facility? Is that what you’re referring to?

DOOCY: — yes and the issue would be that just in the last couple of days, they had 100s of kids that they were holding for over 72 hours, which is the legal limit to keep somebody in a temporary facility. So I’m just curious, why is it happening?

PSAKI: Let’s be clear though, because I know you want to be clear with the public —

DOOCY: Yes.

PSAKI: — about the differences. The CBP facilities, which you’re right, the objective is to — is to move kids, unaccompanied minors as quickly as possible under 72 hours to these HHS-sponsored facilities, which is the one where we’ve been referring to in Texas. They are two different things. There has been — there were some delays last week, because of weather and because some of these facilities to safely move these kids to, did not have power and we’re not in a place where they had the capacity to take in these kids and do it safely. That is not our objective. That is not our goal. So some, unfortunately, did stay four days, five days, or longer, but the objective is to move them as quickly as possible to the HHS-sponsored facilities.

Undeterred, Doocy brought up the fact that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was incensed by the Biden administration’s reopening of facilities denounced under the previous regime, but Psaki reiterated that the flood of illegal immigrant children will continue to be a “heartbreaking” and difficult situation.

With all that in mind, Doocy closed by asking if reporters would be able to see these reopened facilities up close for themselves:

DOOCY: And so if there is this big difference, would the administration support, if it can be done safely, because of COVID and with privacy concerns for the children in mind, would the administration support letting reporters in and present to see what the difference is?

PSAKI: I think you’d have to talk to the Department of Homeland Security about that. There are all obviously safety protocols about that, privacy concerns, but I certainly encourage you to reach out about that.

A few minutes before this exchange, CBS News Radio’s Steven Portnoy had an excellent question to Psaki except his pertained to the ongoing struggle (and refusal) to reopen schools nationwide and whether the Biden administration’s beloved teachers unions have an obligation to the well-being of students.

Portnoy wondered: “What is this President’s view toward the loyalty that the teachers’ unions should have towards students? Teachers — this President is a strong supporter of unions, public sector unions. Is a teacher’s union’s obligation to the workers and their concerns about safety, or is a teacher’s union obligation also to students?”

Psaki did her usual, which was offer nothing. Asserting that she’s “not a spokesperson for the teacher’s union,” she maintained that Biden is committed to parents, students, and teachers “who want to have their kids back in school and he wants to do that safely.”

To see the relevant transcript from February 24’s briefing, click “expand.”

White House Press Briefing
February 24, 2021
1:03 p.m. Eastern

STEVEN PORTNOY: What is this President’s view toward the loyalty that the teachers’ unions should have towards students? Teachers — this President is a strong supporter of unions, public sector unions. Is a teacher’s union’s obligation to the workers and their concerns about safety, or is a teacher’s union obligation also to students?

JEN PSAKI: Well, I can’t speak to the obligations or the — I’m not a spokesperson for the teacher’s union. I’m a spokesperson for the President of the United States, so I can convey to you that his commitment is to the students and to the teachers and to the parents who want to have their kids back in school and he wants to do that safely and that’s what his focus is on and that’s the role he can play from the federal government.

(….)

1:09 p.m. Eastern

PETER DOOCY: We spoke yesterday about immigration and this facility — HHS facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas for migrant children. And you said it is not kids in cages. We’ve seen some photos now of containers. Is there a better description? Is it kids in containers, instead of kids in cages? What is the White House’s description of this facility?

PSAKI: Well, let me — let me give a broader description of what’s happening here. We have a number of unaccompanied minors, children who are coming into the country without their families. What we are not doing, what the last administration did, was separate those kids — rip them from the arms of their parents at the border — we are not doing that. That is immoral and that is not the approach of this administration. These kids, we have a couple of options. We can send them back home and do a dangerous journey back. We are not doing that either. That is also putting them at risk. We can quickly transfer them from CBP to these HHS-run facilities. That’s one option. Or we can put them with families and sponsors without any vetting. There were some problems that that process ran into as well. We’ve chosen the middle option and these HHS facilities, this is one of them you’re referring to. We had to expand and open additional facilities, because there was not enough space in the existing facilities — and if we were to abide by COVID protocols, that’s the process and the step. This facility in Texas, which has been reopened, has been revamped, there are teachers, has been — there is medical facilities and our objective is to move them — move these kids quickly from there to vetted, sponsored families and to places where they can safely be. This is a difficult situation. It’s a difficult choice. That’s the choice we’ve made.

DOOCY: So just one step back from that, we’ve been talking to people down at the border who say that right now, DHS and the border patrol are using the same kind of facilities now that they did during the Trump administration and that there’s a facility right now, it’s in Donna, Texas, instead of McAllen, Texas, but it’s tents and chain link fence around it and so —

PSAKI: A CBP facility before they’re transferred to the HHS facility? Is that what you’re referring to?

DOOCY: — yes and the issue would be that just in the last couple of days, they had 100s of kids that they were holding for over 72 hours, which is the legal limit to keep somebody in a temporary facility. So I’m just curious, why is it happening?

PSAKI: Let’s be clear though, because I know you want to be clear with the public —

DOOCY: Yes.

PSAKI: — about the differences. The CBP facilities, which you’re right, the objective is to — is to move kids, unaccompanied minors as quickly as possible under 72 hours to these HHS-sponsored facilities, which is the one where we’ve been referring to in Texas. They are two different things. There has been — there were some delays last week, because of weather and because some of these facilities to safely move these kids to, did not have power and we’re not in a place where they had the capacity to take in these kids and do it safely. That is not our objective. That is not our goal. So some, unfortunately, did stay four days, five days, or longer, but the objective is to move them as quickly as possible to the HHS-sponsored facilities.

DOOCY: Has the White House seen the comment from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who speaking about that HHS facility in Carrizo Springs, said, “This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party.”

PSAKI: Well, I think the difficulty is — I haven’t seen the full context of the quote or interview —

DOOCY: No, it was a tweet.

PSAKI: — of the tweet that she shared. But I would say the difficulty is what I outlined earlier. We have kids coming across the border. It is heartbreaking. I think we all, as human beings are heart-broken, as parents, as mothers, as fathers too. We only have a couple of choices. What we are not doing is dividing these kids and separating from their parents at the border, which is what the last administration did and why President Biden, or then-candidate Biden, and then-candidate Harris were outspoken at the time about these kids being pulled from their parents. What we are doing is working as quickly as possible to process these kids into these HHS facilities, which have been revamped, which have medical and educational services available, so that we can then transfer them to families. That’s what our approach is.

DOOCY: And so if there is this big difference, would the administration support, if it can be done safely, because of COVID and with privacy concerns for the children in mind, would the administration support letting reporters in and present to see what the difference is?

PSAKI: I think you’d have to talk to the Department of Homeland Security about that. There are all obviously safety protocols about that, privacy concerns, but I certainly encourage you to reach out about that.

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