Psaki Laughs Off Question Over Migrant Detention Centers At Full Capacity While Schools Remain Closed

Psaki Laughs Off Question Over Migrant Detention Centers At Full Capacity While Schools Remain Closed

Mona Salama
Mona Salama
March 11, 2021

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was called out Wednesday by a reporter when she thought one of his question was funny when asked whether the White House thinks its a problem the migrant detention centers are open at full capacity but many schools are still closed despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) giving the approval.

During the daily White House Press Briefing, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy pointed out CDC recommendations regarding reopening schools and managing migrant detention facilities to note that while the detention facilities are at full capacity while many schools won't reopen.

"Does the White House think it's a problem that when the CDC tells these migrant shelter facilities that they can be at full capacity if they are careful about COVID — many of them do, but when the CDC tells schools that they can open in person at full capacity many of them don't?" Doocy asked.

Psaki appearing confused at Doocy's question and asked him if had "an example" of a "school in particular" that isn't opened.

"Is there a school in particular that you have as an example that didn't do that?" Psaki responded, to which Doocy said: "Are most schools in this country at full capacity with in-person learning?"

But the press secretary continued to appear stumped on his question and wanted Doocy to give a "specific school that is not following the CDC guidelines of implementing the mitigation steps to reopen," before arguing that the CDC gave "eight mitigation steps" and it is up to each school to decide if they are able to reopen based on the guidance. Psaki also asserted that "some of these school districts need additional funding... to help them reopen."

The Fox reporter then asked Psaki from the White House "perspective" if Border Patrol unions "have been easier to work with" compared to the teachers' unions, who are the main roadblocks for schools that continue to remain close by citing safety concerns as an issue, despite evidences to the contrary. The teacher unions since President Biden took office with Democrats control both chambers of Congress have been moving the goalposts for reopening, using students as bargaining chips by creating exaggerated safety concerns to obtain more unnecessary funding in the COVID relief bill and to skip the vaccination line by prioritizing younger teachers over the vulnerable elderly population in order to reopen.

"I think that's a little bit of mixing different circumstances," Psaki replied and then laughed when Doocy noted that both schools and detention facilities involve children being in tight quarters amid the pandemic.

"It's not funny," Doocy replied, calling out Psaki for laugh at the notion of "children all in tight quarters."

Psaki then tried to explain that the "two issues" are "different circumstances."

"Every school district is going to work to implement those on a timeline that they can effectively do. Many school districts are reopening," Psaki stated. "That is a different circumstance than what we are seeing at the border. And HHS oversees these facilities, right? They're working on ensuring we can have more kids safely. They are working to implement CDC guidelines, but they are different circumstances."

She added, "And certainly, we're working with the school districts, and we're also working with HHS to open or to ensure that kids are treated with safety and care in these facilities."

Last Friday, The Biden administration notified facilities that it was lifting the initial capacity restriction of 50 percent at migrant detention centers to expand at full capacity due. The CDC in a separate document called the situation an "extraordinary" circumstance and informed detention centers that "facilities should plan for and expect to have COVID-19 cases," as a result of thousands of unaccompanied children arriving and detained every week on the border.

Leaked documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show in the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day — up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February and just 47 per day during the first week of January. It also revealed that detention facilities are at 94 percent occupancy and are expected to reach the maximum capacity this month.

Department of Homeland Security currently projects there will be 117,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the southern border without a parent or guardian in 2021, according to a White House domestic policy council document. The Biden administration is preparing to quickly expand its network of migrant-child shelters by reopening next month the scandal detention facilities in Homestead, Florida, and are in talks with the Pentagon about finding additional overflow sites in military bases.

However, the White House continues to be reluctant to call the new surge of immigrants at the U.S-Mexico southern border a "crisis," despite reports earlier this week reporting that the number of detained unaccompanied children has tripled in just the last two weeks alone. Psaki on Tuesday when pressed on the matter said she is not looking to "put new labels" on the escalating situation, claiming instead that it amounts to a "challenge."

Republican lawmakers have slammed Biden for his handling of the influx of migrants leading to a border crisis, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio warned with Biden ending the "Remain in Mexico" program, the president has sent "another signal that it is okay to come to this country unlawfully."

"I have tremendous compassion for the unimaginable conditions in which people live throughout our hemisphere, but there is nothing compassionate about President Biden's approach. The result will be more chaos at our border, more lives exploited by evil human traffickers, and more illegal immigration," Rubio added.

Mona Salama

Mona Salama

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