White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border a “crisis on the border” during Thursday’s press briefing but later walked it back when a reporter pointed out to her what she had said.
Psaki using the term “crisis on the border” comes as the Biden administration has repeatedly refused to call the situation a “crisis.” Even top Democrats have started calling the situation a crisis.
Psaki used the term during the following exchange [emphasis added]:
REPORTER: So if I’m hearing you, the vaccine was given. Were there expectations set with the Mexicans that they help deal with this situation on the border?
PSAKI: The — we —
REPORTER: Was there a quid pro quo?
PSAKI: There have been ex — there have been expectations set outside of — unrelated — to any vaccine doses or request for them that they would be partners in dealing with the crisis on the border. And there have been requests, unrelated, that they — for doses of these vaccines. Every relationship has multiple layers of conversations that are happening at the same time.
🚨🚨: Jen Psaki just broke with the administration, and called it "the crisis on the border."
Later corrected herself in another response! pic.twitter.com/I8m9ee0Pz5
— John Cooper (@thejcoop) March 18, 2021
Later during the press conference, a reporter pointed out to Psaki that she called the situation on the border a “crisis,” to which she responded that it was a “challenge” and that it was not a crisis.
Here’s the exchange:
REPORTER: Thank you, ma’am. A couple of quick questions. When you were talking, a moment ago, about diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Mexico, you said “crisis on the border.” Is — was that a —
PSAKI: Challenges on the border.
REPORTER: Okay. But, so, that’s not — that doesn’t reflect any change in the administration’s —
REPORTER: — view of things?
When asked if there’s a border crisis, Biden's Press Secretary Jen Psaki says “nope”pic.twitter.com/BO6lHm1tLS
— Tommy Pigott (@TCPigott) March 18, 2021
During another exchange, Psaki was pressed by a reporter about the messaging coming from the White House that the reporter said does not match what journalists on the ground are saying.
Here is the exchange:
REPORTER: The President has made it very clear in his recent interview that the border is not open, effectively that it’s closed, except for these unaccompanied minors right now, under humanitarian grounds —
REPORTER: — who are being welcomed into the U.S. But as we speak, crews from multiple outlets, including those from NBC News, are at the border and they’re seeing many migrant families being accepted — young families being accepted into the country right now.
So can you square those two — when the message was that families and individuals were being sent home, but unaccompanied minors were being kept — why young families are, in fact, being kept here in the U.S. and detained?
PSAKI: Well, we’ve talked about this a little bit in here before, but — and we are still applying Section 42, which — and with — the exception is, of course, unaccompanied minors.
We are — there are limited scenarios, limited circumstances where we are — very limited, I should say — where families are coming across, going through proper protocols at the border — being tested and then having their cases adjudicated.
Part of this is that — part of the reasoning is that, of course, we’ve closed Matamoros and some — there has been some less participation in keeping some of these families in Mexico than in the past. And many of these policies we have supported.
But the vast majority of people — vast, vast majority — who come to the border are turned away. The border is not open. These are very limited scenarios.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 18, 2021
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