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Reporter confronts Jen Psaki over whether Biden admin's spin is making border crisis worse


'Isn't that sending the signal that there will be a time to come?'

Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was confronted Tuesday about the intensifying border crisis and whether the Biden administration's immigration rhetoric is magnifying the problem.

Psaki was peppered with questions at Tuesday's press briefing about the wave of unaccompanied migrant children traveling to the U.S. and particularly why the Biden administration has refused thus far to describe the growing problem as a "crisis."

What is the background?

As thousands of unaccompanied migrants have entered to the U.S., the Biden administration has been forced to deal with its first major crisis.

Migrant children are reportedly being housed in detention facilities "akin to jails" and are being separated from their families.

Unfortunately for President Joe Biden, the problem is only expected to grow. In fact, according to Homeland Security estimates, immigration officials expect a record 117,000 unaccompanied minors to travel to the U.S. this year alone, Axios reported.

What was Psaki asked?

Canadian journalist Richard Latendresse confronted Psaki over why the Biden administration uses language that sounds like extending an invitation for migrants to come to the U.S. despite the growing crisis.

During the Biden transition, a senior transition official told NBC News that migrants seeking asylum "need to understand they're not going to be able to come into the United States immediately." The Biden administration has maintained language that suggests they want migrants to come to the U.S. — just not right now.

Latendresse asked, "You keep repeating, 'This is not the time to come.' Isn't that sending the signal that there will be a time to come? 'Just wait.'"

Psaki had, in fact, used the exact phrase "this is not the time to come" in reference to migrants, three times during Tuesday's briefing.

In response to Latendresse's question, Psaki launched into a polemic against the Trump administration after first explaining the administration's posture toward migrant children.

When we say, "It's not the time to come now," the reason is: This is a— we are still digging our way out of a dismantled, immoral, and ineffective immigration policy that was being implemented by the last administration that was largely based around funding for a border wall. It's going to take us some time.

And we do want to put in place — modernize the immigration system, which means investing in smart security, which means creating a pathway to citizenship, which means funding and supporting efforts to address the root causes in the region. And we — as a part of that, we want to ensure that there is effective processing at the border.

What else was Psaki asked?

Psaki was asked multiple times why the Biden administration refuses to call the situation at the border a "crisis."

"Look, I don't think we need to sit here and put new labels on what we have already conveyed is challenging, what we have conveyed is a top priority for the president, what our policy teams are working on every single day," Psaki said.

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