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Things got tense in the briefing room, Thursday, when Fox News reporter Peter Doocy pressed White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about loose COVID policies at the southern border, which he described as “open.”
Psaki denied the border being open, though she could not give an answer about where thousands of migrants are, instead directing him to the Department of Homeland Security.
Doocy told Psaki, according to her numbers, there are still at least 5,000 migrants unaccounted for from the 15,000 reported Saturday under the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
“Say there’s 5,000 that are still left, where’s everybody else?” Doocy asked Psaki.
“I’m happy to get you a more fruitful rundown for you if you — if helpful, from the Department of Homeland Security,” the press secretary replied.
Then Doocy noted that migrants are only getting tested for COVID if they show symptoms, and some are being placed in the U.S.
“Most of these people that are going into removal proceedings are being put on either buses from Del Rio to El Paso and Laredo or being flown to Tucson with no COVID tested — testing unless they show symptoms. How is that helping anybody stop the spread?” he questioned.
“We have a protocol and process in place as it relates to COVID in terms of testing and quarantining, and also vaccines are provided for a range of migrants by our partner organizations in the region,” Psaki evaded.
“But why should somebody, say, in Laredo, Texas, or El Paso, or Tucson, Arizona, have to have their chance of catching COVID go up because, hundreds of miles away, there is an open border?” Doocy pressed.
An offended Psaki shot back, “Well, there certainly is not an open border.”
“We are continuing to employ our immigration proceedings and process and restrictions at the border, and that includes the implementation of enforcing Title 42, which is an authority — a public health authority,” she said. “It includes moving people into either a process for expedited removal or removal proceedings. That is our immigration process that we are proceeding underneath.”
“You say the border is not open, but we’re told by our teams on the ground you guys are releasing pretty much all family units, couples where the woman says that she is pregnant, or single women who say that they are pregnant and that nobody actually has to take a pregnancy test unless they want to. So, how —,”
“Are you suggesting you don’t believe when women say they’re pregnant? Is that a big issue, we think, at the border?” Psaki interrupted.
“I am not in charge of keeping the border secure,” Doocy shot back. “You guys are.”
Psaki mocked, “Do you think pregnant women are posing a big threat to the border?”
“You tell me,” Doocy told her.
“… To the border communities? Is that a big issue?” Psaki said.
“You tell me,” Doocy said.
“I’m not aware of pregnant women being a big issue of concern to people at the border,” Psaki said, evading Doocy’s original point about the border being open.
“The issue is not about pregnant women,” Doocy reiterated. “The issue is: Is the border open or is the border closed? Because my understanding is that a lot of this is happening on this side of the border.”
“I think you know the answer to that question,” Psaki answered. “And I just conveyed clearly that we’re implementing our border restrictions, including Title 42, including making clear that people who are coming through irregular migration — that this is not the time to come and they will be placed in removal proceedings.”