Former President Donald Trump received widespread criticism from progressives over his immigration policies, particularly in the form of outrage over child detention facilities and claims that his administration was keeping “kids in cages.”
As it turns out, the Biden administration is now making use of some of the same facilities, leaving White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in the unenviable position of attempting to defend the policy adamantly decried on the left.
“This is not okay”
In response to recent reports on the matter, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was among those in her party who spoke out in opposition, albeit less vehemently than she did during the Trump years.
AOC tweeted this week that operating child detention facilities “is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay,” but opted against including her prior rhetoric comparing them to concentration camps.
This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party. https://t.co/AEV7s7QQnB
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 23, 2021
During a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Psaki was asked to describe the difference between what is occurring under Biden and the children allegedly being kept in cages under the prior administration.
Though she offered a lengthy reply, it did not directly confront the central issue of the question. Instead, she attempted to place the blame on pressures associated with the ongoing public health crisis.
“The choice we’ve made”
“We had to expand and open additional facilities because there was not enough space in the existing facilities, and — if we were to abide by COVID protocols,” Psaki said.
As the White House spokesperson went on to claim, the detention camps had been “revamped” to include “teachers” and “medical facilities.” She added that there are efforts underway to quickly process the minors and move them on to “vetted, sponsored families and to places where they can safely be.”
The press secretary described the matter as “a difficult situation” and “a difficult choice,” maintaining that the current trajectory is “the choice we’ve made.”
Psaki also fielded a reporter’s request for a response to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, though she claimed not to have the “full context” of the New York Democrat’s assessment.
Instead, she launched into a nonsequitur about the “heartbreaking” situation of separating migrant children and their parents, asserting: “What we are doing is working as quickly as possible to process these kids into these HHS facilities, which have been revamped, which have medical and educational services available, so that we can then transfer them to families. That’s what our approach is.”