The Biden administration has frequently promised to be open and transparent about everything that goes on within the White House walls — but when it comes to the crisis at the U.S.–Mexico border, the president’s team has been especially opaque about the specifics.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked directly about the dichotomy between the Biden team’s words and actions on the border on Wednesday — but according to the Washington Examiner, all she did was double down about being “committed to transparency.”
It’s a message that falls short as reports indicate more than 13,000 migrant children are currently in the custody of the U.S. federal government amid a surge in immigration that many believe was brought on by Biden’s own lax stance on border control.
With more and more questions going unanswered, all Psaki could do was refer reporters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for comment, the Examiner reported.
“Committed” to repeating empty talking points
It was during the press secretary’s daily briefing Wednesday when one journalist hounded her about “the situation on the border.”
“It’s now been three weeks since, I think, in this room, you were first asked about getting us some press access. Why have we still not seen any images inside these facilities?” the reporter asked, according to a White House transcript.
In response, Psaki insisted:
We remain committed to doing that, and I think these facilities are overseen — HHS, of course, overseens [sic] — oversees the shelters; DHS oversees the Border Patrol facilities.
And we want to work with them to ensure we can do it, respecting the privacy and, obviously, the health protocols required by COVID.
Pressed further by the reporter, Psaki said the Biden administration remains “committed to sharing with all of you data” on a variety of topics related to the ongoing border surge. “And we remain committed to transparency,” she claimed. “I don’t have an update for you on the timeline for access, but it’s certainly something we support.”
“Secrecy” in the Biden White House
Despite her attempts, Psaki wasn’t able to escape that line of questioning for several minutes as that reporter and others pressed her on what seems to be an “element of secrecy” surrounding Biden and the border.
“You know, we’re hearing from border agents that they’re frustrated that they can’t show us what’s actually happening along the border; they can’t do ride-alongs; they can’t answer questions about what’s happening inside,” the first reporter said. Another lamented: “You all came in and promised to be the most truthful and transparent administration. And you all, you know, oversee the Department of Homeland Security. So if you all wanted to grant access to the press, couldn’t you just tell DHS to do it?”
But Psaki didn’t budge. “I certainly wouldn’t characterize it that way,” she said of claims of secrecy, according to the White House transcript. “I know there’s Border Patrol agents quoted in a lot of your stories, and you speak to frequently. And that’s something we support.
“Again, we fully support transparency,” the press secretary concluded ironically, “and I would encourage you to talk to the Department of Homeland Security about any requests you have for press access or what you’re looking to accomplish at the border.”