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Psaki: Biden’s Border Crisis Won’t Stop ‘Until We Fix The System,’ Republicans Aren’t Doing Anything

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks at a press briefing in the White House on September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki spoke on a range of topics including the Covid-19 vaccines and the U.S and Mexico border.
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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a White House press briefing on Monday that President Joe Biden couldn’t do much to stop the crisis on the southern border “until we fix the system” and then proceeded to suggest that Republicans were not doing anything to help solve the problem.

“We now have another group of migrants that has crossed the southern border of Mexico, could end up on the U.S. southern border within the next month or so,” a reporter said. “So, does the White House believe the message of deterrence — ‘The border is closed; do not come’ — is working?”

“The White House believes that — and the President believes that our immigration system is incredibly broken. And we saw a surge — we’ve certainly seen a surge of migrants come to the border recently. We saw a surge back in 2019. We saw a surge back in 2014,” Psaki claimed. “Until we fix the system and we have a more effective and operational immigration system, until we have an asylum processing system that works at the border, we’re going to continue to see cyclical challenges like this. And we’ve seen them over Dem- — across Democratic and Republican Presidents.”

When pressed about what Biden is going to do to address the issue since immigration reform has stalled in Congress, Psaki said, “Well, we would argue that — for all of those Republicans who are standing at the border and giving speeches about how broken the system is: Why don’t you join us and be a part of the solution instead of relying on speeches?”

“Because we can work together and get immigration reform passed and make the system work and make it operational. We can have border restrictions that make sense,” she said. “We can have a humane system that ensures that people can apply for asylum in an equitable way. That’s something — we all agree the system is broken. I think the question is: Who’s going to work with us to get changes done to make it better?”

The reporter noted that Republicans have said that the immigration reform bill in Congress does not have enough security provisions in it, to which Psaki replied, “If Republicans are eager to have a conversation about comprehensive immigration reform, we’re happy to have that conversation.”

“We haven’t seen any willingness or appetite to do that; all we’ve seen is speeches and talking points to date,” she continued.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said during an interview on Sunday that the administration does not “agree with the building of the wall.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

REPORTER: I want to go back to the border. On Friday, the Secretary of Homeland Security said that 12,000 migrants were released into the U.S. to have their cases heard by an immigration judge; 2,000 were expelled via flights. But we now have another group of migrants that has crossed the southern border of Mexico, could end up on the U.S. southern border within the next month or so. So, does the White House believe the message of deterrence — “The border is closed; do not come” — is working?

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Jacqui, the White House believes that — and the President believes that our immigration system is incredibly broken. And we saw a surge — we’ve certainly seen a surge of migrants come to the border recently. We saw a surge back in 2019. We saw a surge back in 2014.

Until we fix the system and we have a more effective and operational immigration system, until we have an asylum processing system that works at the border, we’re going to continue to see cyclical challenges like this. And we’ve seen them over Dem- — across Democratic and Republican Presidents.

So, our objective continues to be not just addressing, obviously, the challenges we saw in Del Rio last week, but working with Congress to get immigration reform passed so we can fix the broken system and ensure we can have a better operational process moving forward.

REPORTER: But how is that going to get fixed when the immigration bill has been, you know, stalled in Congress since the President took office? It’s been tough to even get something like roads and bridges passed; that’s coming to a head this week. How is that going to work when there’s also this backlog of 1.3 million cases that are waiting to be heard? And, on average, it’s taking two and a half years for cases to be processed from the notice to appear to the case completion. That’s almost double from a year ago.

So what tools is the President going to use? Because Congress is very slow right now.

PSAKI: Well, we would argue that — for all of those Republicans who are standing at the border and giving speeches about how broken the system is: Why don’t you join us and be a part of the solution instead of relying on speeches?

Because we can work together and get immigration reform passed and make the system work and make it operational. We can have border restrictions that make sense. We can have a humane system that ensures that people can apply for asylum in an equitable way. That’s something — we all agree the system is broken. I think the question is: Who’s going to work with us to get changes done to make it better?

REPORTER: Republicans are saying that a major reason that this bill can’t move is because there’s not enough border security provisions in it. Is the President going to bolster border security in order to pass immigration reform?

PSAKI: If Republicans are eager to have a conversation about comprehensive immigration reform, we’re happy to have that conversation. We haven’t seen any willingness or appetite to do that; all we’ve seen is speeches and talking points to date.

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