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Biden press secretary Psaki calls border surge a ‘crisis,’ then takes it back

Press Secretary Jen Psaki answers questions, Feb. 24, 2021, at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West)
March 18, 2021

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the overwhelming migrant surge at the U.S.-Mexico border a “crisis” on Thursday before reversing course and calling it a “challenge” instead.

When asked if there were expectations set with the Mexicans to help deal with the situation at the border, Psaki responded, “There have been expectations set outside of, unrelated to, any vaccine doses or requests for them that they would be partners in dealing with the crisis on the border.”

Shortly thereafter, a reporter asked the Biden administration official about her reference to the situation as a “crisis”. Psaki interrupted the question with an apparent correction, saying, “Challenges on the border.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly avoided calling the border situation a “crisis,” despite a record-breaking rate of illegal immigration that is overwhelming Customs and Border Patrol facilities.

Since Biden took office, the number of migrants encountered by border patrol agents have skyrocketed, with over 100,000 apprehended last month alone.

On Wednesday, forty Republican senators wrote a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office questioning if President Biden’s executive order stopping a $1 billion fund for the border wall vote on by Congress was legal.

“In the weeks that followed, operational control of our southern border was compromised and a humanitarian and national security crisis has ensued,” the letter stated. “The president’s actions directly contributed to this unfortunate, yet entirely avoidable, scenario.”

It continued, “They are also a blatant violation of federal law and infringe on Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.”

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, one of the Republican lawmakers to sign the letter, told “Fox and Friends” that Democrats would likely redirect the funding to something else.  

“The money is there, President Biden refuses to use it, at least on the border wall,” Kennedy said. “We have sent him a letter demanding that he use it. I have every expectation that he will ignore us.”

As of Sunday, over 4,000 unaccompanied children were being housed in Border Patrol facilities, with at least 3,000 remaining in CBP custody past the three-day legal limit, a U.S. official told The Associated Press.

More than 560 children were also taken into custody Monday, which is nearly twice the recent average, an official said.

Earlier this week, the administration sent FEMA to assist with the migrant surge, and Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the number of immigrants attempting to cross the border illegally will likely reach the highest rate in 20 years.

Senator Joe Manchin became the first prominent Democrat to break party lines and refer to the situation as a crisis during an appearance on CNN Monday.

“Whatever message was sent – it was sure interpreted the wrong way,” Manchin said while discussing the migrant surge.

“It’s a crisis,” he added. “Oh, it’s a crisis.”