White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the Biden administration’s decision to reopen a detention center for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas by claiming it is necessary due to COVID-19.
“Why is the administration reopening a temporary facility for migrant children in Texas?” Fox News’s Peter Doocy asked during Tuesday’s press briefing.
“Because of COVID-19 protocols, like social distancing requirements, the capacity at existing Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters has been significantly reduced because, of course, you can’t have a child in every bed. There needs to be spacing, and we abide by the spacing to protect the kids who are living in those facilities for a short period of time,” Psaki explained.
.@PressSec says the reopening of a detention center for unaccompanied minors in Texas was necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/IqQWUIJhO5
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 23, 2021
The policy of President Joe Biden and his team, Psaki attempted to reassure the reporters, is still “not to expel unaccompanied children who arrived at the border.” The process for their resettlement, however, “can take a couple of days” and requires temporary holding facilities “to ensure the health and safety of these kids.”
“HHS took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity where these children can be provided the care they need while they are safely, before they are safely placed with families and sponsors,” Psaki said, emphasizing that it is a “temporary reopening during COVID-19.” “Our intention is very much to close it, but we want to ensure that we can follow COVID protocols, as unaccompanied minors come into the United States,” Psaki said.
Psaki’s comments come shortly after the Washington Post ran an article reporting on the reopening of a children’s detention center in Texas.
“First migrant facility for children opens under Biden,” the headline read, paired with a photo of shipping containers with bar-covered windows.
First migrant facility for children opens under Biden https://t.co/ADgQxIlMYU
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 23, 2021
The headline and cover photo on the article sparked a series of negative reactions on Twitter, especially from conservatives who noted that the left targeted former President Donald Trump for detaining children at the border and keeping “kids in cages.”
If you want to read something creepy, check out the propagandistic attempt by the WPost to make these "migrant facility for children" (not cages!) sound like a fun, joyous summer camp (even as immigration activists bitterly complain that Trump used it). https://t.co/k93zkilBfD pic.twitter.com/ErVO9Wj3vM
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 23, 2021
Kids in cages is now “migrant facility for children.” https://t.co/AcfgIwFI1m
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 23, 2021
Some politicians also reacted to the WaPo article, noting biased reporting differences between the Trump and Biden administrations.
“Kids in cages” turns into “migrant facilities” pretty quickly when a Democrat is in office. https://t.co/Oe1Kjw0hwz
— Congressman Greg Steube (@RepGregSteube) February 23, 2021
They’re not “kids in cages” anymore. They’re kids in “migrant facilities.”
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 23, 2021