White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday that reporters would soon be granted access to Border Patrol facilities sheltering unaccompanied minors.
Psaki’s comment came in response to questions from Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday over the administration’s lack of transparency around the facilities, which are required, by law, to transfer children to HHS shelters in under 72 hours. In recent weeks, as the number of unaccompanied minors in Border Protection and Health and Human Services custody has swelled to more than 18,000, some children have been held in the processing centers for as long as ten days.
Psaki said that the Biden administration was “absolutely committed” to allowing reporters and cameras into the facilities.
“We want to provide access into the Border Patrol facilities,” Psaki said. “We are mindful that we are in the middle of the pandemic, we want to keep the kids safe, we want to keep the staff safe.”
Wallace accused the White House of being “less transparent than the Trump administration” regarding media access at the facilities, to which Psaki responded that the administration is “committed to allowing cameras into Border Patrol facilities.”
However, Senator Mike Braun (R., Ind.) on Saturday said a Biden official asked a group of Republican senators who visited the southern border to delete photos they had taken of the overcrowded conditions at a migrant processing and holding center they toured one day earlier in Donna, Texas.
“There was one of Biden’s representatives. I felt sorry for the lady because she actually talked to me about deleting a picture, but by the time she got to me, all those other pictures were taken, and that shows you the hypocrisy,” Braun told the Washington Examiner.
Photos showed children sleeping on the ground on mats and migrants crowded into enclosed pods.
In response to a question about the growing number of minors in Border Patrol and HHS custody, Psaki noted that the Biden administration’s “objective is to take a different approach than the last administration.”
She said that the Trump administration returned a number of young children back to unsafe situations.
“What we’re really talking about is children, and we’re handling that in the most humane…way,” Psaki said. “It does not mean they get to stay in the United States, it means their cases are adjudicated.”
Psaki’s comments come one week after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas underscored the Biden administration’s messaging to migrants that the southern border is closed, though he noted that it would not expel “vulnerable children.”
“Our message has been straightforward and simple and it’s true: The border is closed,” Mayorkas said. “We are expelling families, we are expelling single adults and we’ve made a decision that we will not expel young vulnerable children.”