White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted Sunday that President Biden is “absolutely committed” to providing media access to government border facilities — but wouldn’t say when.
Her words ignited a tense exchange with anchor Chris Wallace during the interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Wallace said “the only way we know how bad conditions are” at the border is because of photographs taken and released by Republican and Democratic members of Congress.
“These kids are living in these conditions now. They’re not living in these conditions some indeterminate time from now when the president says everything will be fixed,” Wallace said.
He also pushed back on Psaki’s insistence during White House news briefings that the visits must be conducted safely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Psaki said the president is “absolutely committed” to allowing media access.
“When?” Wallace asked.
“We want to provide access into the border patrol facilities. We are mindful of the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. “We want to keep these kids safe, keep the staff safe, but we are absolutely committed to transparency and providing access to media to the border patrol facilities.”
But Wallace pressed about the lack of access and how the length of time minors are being held violates the law, saying the Biden White House is “being less transparent than the Trump administration.”
She said former President Donald Trump “turned away kids at the border” and sent them back on a “treacherous journey” or ripped “kids from the arms of their parents.”
“We’re not doing that,” Psaki said.
“I would also say we are committed to solutions. That’s why I noted that we reopened or opened three facilities that have almost 7,000 beds to allow for processing these kids more quickly out of the Border Patrol facilities,” she continued.
“We absolutely agree these are not places for children and our focus is on solutions and moving them as quickly as possible,” Psaki said.
Wallace also challenged Psaki on her claims that the “border remains closed” and that the administration is turning away the “majority of adults.”
“You can play with percentages, but in absolute numbers, these are record numbers. There are now 18,000 unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody. There are new records being set, 500 to 800 each day,” he said.
Psaki responded: “Our objective is to take a different approach from the last administration. We are not going to send children under the age of 18, kids under the age of 18, back on this treacherous journey.”
She added that just because there are thousands of children being held in Health and Human Services facilities, “it does not mean they get to stay in the United States, it means their cases are adjudicated.”