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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday now is “not the time” for Latin American parents to send their children north to the U.S. border.
“Parents should not be sending their kids north right now?” one reporter asked Psaki. “Absolutely not. This is not the time to come– we’ve not had the time to put in place an immigration system, an immigration policy,” she replied.
“We don’t have the processing we need at the border, obviously we’re continuing to struggle with facilities to ensure that we’re abiding by Covid protocols,” Psaki continued.
Psaki also faced questions on the newly reopened child migrant facility previously used under the Trump administration. The facility is being reactivated to hold up to 700 children ages 13 to 17, according to The Washington Post.
The press secretary denied comparisons to the “kids in cages” criticism of the Trump administration.
“We are in a circumstance where we’re not going to expel unaccompanied migrants at the border. That would be inhumane,” she said.
“This is a facility that was opened that is going to follow the same standard as other HHS facilities,” she continued. “It is not a replication certainly not that’s never our intention replicating the immigration policies of the past administration.”
President Biden campaigned on reversing the Trump administration’s “draconian” immigration policies, but said in December it would take the new White House six months to do so in order to prevent triggering a surge of “2 million people on our border.”
Biden has vowed to scrap the Trump administration’s policy mandating that most Central Americans trying to migrate to the U.S. stay in Mexico while their asylum claims are reviewed. But he admitted he can’t do so right away.
Amid an increasing number of immigrants being detained at the nation’s southern border since his presidential election victory over Trump last month, Biden emphasized that “the last thing we need is to say we’re going to stop immediately the, you know, the access to asylum the way it’s being run now and end up with 2 million people on our border.
But on certain matters, the president has already taken executive action. Last month he signed an order halting construction of the southern border wall while the administration studies whether it can redivert money that has been assigned to the project.
He also signed a memorandum to protect the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields immigrants who came to the country illegally as children from deportation.
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Meanwhile, Biden is pushing ahead with an immigration plan that includes an eight-year path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants and immediate green cards for farmworkers and DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
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