The White House addressed questions about the calamity at the US-Mexico border on Monday, taking questions from reporters about both the morality of sending the thousands of Haitians who crossed into the US at Del Rio, Texas, as well as concerns about what exactly the White House intends to do about the ongoing problems of migration.
"What's going on at the border?" Fox News' Peter Doocy asked. "Is somebody asking the foreign nationals who are walking into Del Rio, Texas, and setting up camps on this side of the border for proof of vaccination for a negative COVID test?"
"Well, first of all," Psaki said, "I can re-address for you what steps we take—"
"That is the policy for people who fly into the country," Doocy clarified. "So if somebody walks into the country right across the river, does somebody asked them to see their vaccination card?"
"Well, let me explain to you again, Peter, how our process works," Psaki said. "As individuals come across the border, and they are both assessed for whether they have any symptoms. If they have symptoms they are—the intention is for them to be quarantined. That is our process. They're not intending to stay here for a lengthy period of time. I don't think it's the same thing. It's not the same thing.
"These are individuals, as we've noted, and as has been discussed, we are expelling individuals based on Title 42, specifically because of COVID, because we want to prevent a scenario where large numbers of people are gathering, posing a threat to the community and also to the migrants themselves. So those are the policies that we put in place, in large part because, again, the CDC continues to recommend Title 42 to be in place, given we're facing a global pandemic."
"Where is the Vice President on any of this?" Doocy asked. "Isn't she's supposed to be addressing the root causes of migration?"
"Absolutely," Psaki confirmed. "And she has been addressing the root causes of migration by working with countries in the region to ensure they have the assistance they need to reduce the number of people who are coming and trying to make those journeys across the border. We've actually seen some reductions in some of those numbers. That doesn't change the fact that this is a very challenging situation and Del Rio, we're working to implement our policies, and we're working to ensure we are also addressing their process."
Psaki was asked earlier in the press briefing by April Ryan about the moral responsibility facing the US as regards the vast number of Haitian migrants who have made their way across the border at Del Rio and have been camped out under a bridge awaiting processing.
"What is there to go back to what are you deporting them back to?" Ryan asked as to the fate of the Haitian migrants, who face a tumultuous society back home.
"Well, April, I will say that our objective and our focus is not only in implementing current immigration policies," Psaki said. "We have also been working to provide a range of assistance, working closely with officials from the government, as individuals are going back to Haiti to provide a range of financial assistance to provide a range of technical assistance. That is ongoing. And we certainly support and want to be good actors in supporting a Haiti during a very difficult time, as you noted, with a government that is still working to get back to a point of stability, with recovery from an earthquake, and that's why we have a range of programs, options, as well as financial support in place.
Immigration and migration has also reached the Senate, where Democrats intended to put new immigration legislation into a spending bill. That legislation would include a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrations to the US, into place. That plan was recently rejected by the Senate parliamentarian, who said that the plan to add immigration legislation to a spending bill that the majority party intended to pass with no opposition support, a process called reconciliation, violated Senate rules.
"How confident is the President that we'll be able to enact some sort of long term pathway to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants at some point before the midterms? Whether it's through reconciliation—" a reporter asked.
"The President is absolutely committed to putting in place a path to citizenship," Psaki said after a preamble, "to putting in place long overdue managed measures to fix our immigration system to make it more moral, humane, and workable, frankly. And obviously, he supported and continues to support having immigration measures as a part of the reconciliation process. And as I noted... the next step is really to see alternatives and proposed by by Senators who have already said they have every intention of doing exactly that."
"Just to follow up on that," the reporter continued. "We've also seen the parliamentarian rule against the effort to increase the minimum wage through a reconciliation bill. We've seen other priorities on the hill that both the president democrats campaigned on, you know, police reform, gun control also stalled, or is there a recognition in the White House now that some of the priorities that he in the party campaign for last year are just simply not going to happen? Not going to become reality before the midterms?"
"No," Psaki said simply before taking questions from Doocy.