White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back against The View’s Meghan McCain on Thursday over accusations of “hypocrisy” surrounding the Biden administration’s use of detention facilities to house migrant children.
The current situation is “absolutely not” the same as “kids in cages,” Psaki insisted.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the Biden administration had opened its first migrant child facility at the border. The temporary facility, which had been shuttered under the Trump administration following backlash over the controversial zero-tolerance policy of separating migrant children from parents, will be used to hold up to 700 children aged 13 to 17.
The administration, meanwhile, has faced criticism from across the political spectrum over the move, with conservatives especially charging President Joe Biden with hypocrisy due to Democratic complaints about the previous administration’s treatment of migrant children. The White House has contended that the two situations are not the same and they are not replicating the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
During the press secretary’s View appearance on Thursday, McCain essentially parroted the same questions Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Psaki about the facilities at a White House briefing earlier this week.
“President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris repeatedly spoke out against ‘kids in cages.’ I feel like this is the same thing, and that you're still detaining kids at the border and it's not meaningfully different than what President Trump was doing,” the conservative host stated.
“Absolutely not, Meghan,” Psaki replied. “We are not ripping children from the arms of their parents. That is horrible and something we saw in the last administration, but we're seeing kids are fleeing prosecution.”
“They're fleeing really difficult circumstances in their home country and they're coming to the border and we have to figure out how to treat them humanely and keep them safe, and in a time of COVID,” the White House spokesperson continued. “We had to have educational services, so we could have legal services and medical and health services and have those kids there treated humanely until we can find proper homes, family placements for these kids.”
While co-host Sunny Hostin was about to jump in with a question, McCain interjected and continued to press Psaki on the issue.
“I just wanted to know are you or are you not detaining children in a different facility?!” McCain exclaimed.
“Well, Meghan, this is a facility that was reopened,” Psaki responded, sticking to her talking points. “It was revamped and it was redone to have these kids in a place where they could have access to educational services, health services so they could find proper homes. We can't send them directly to families that haven't been vetted. We've seen issues with that in the past.”
McCain, for her part, went on to note that the criticism the White House has received has also come from Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), adding that “a lot of people see this as hypocrisy” over the facility use.
“It’s sort of ‘potato potahto,’ it’s kids in cages or kids are being separated from their families. Kids are being separated from their families,” the View host continued.
Psaki, for her part, attempted to reconcile the difference, noting that the Biden administration is no longer separating children from parents at the border.
“This is a facility—and we had to open a new one to make sure we have the safety protocols in order to address the COVID needs and the health and safety needs because we can't have as many kids in the former HHS facility," she declared.
“That's exactly what we did, but our objective is to get these kids into safe homes with their families as quickly as possible, and we are absolutely not doing what the former president did, and what frankly the current president and the current vice president objected to, which is ripping kids from the arms of their parents,” the press secretary concluded. “That is not the policy of this administration and not something we would do.”