Psaki had kept open the idea of sharing them Wednesday at a press briefing after she revealed that advisors to President Biden who had been to the border spoke to him ‘with photos’ about the facilities where unaccompanied children were being house.
‘I’m happy to invite them to the briefing room and talk to them about the photos,’ she said on Wednesday, amid weeks of calls by media organizations to be granted their own access to the facilities.
The administration won’t be releasing images of U.S. facilities for children at the border that were used to brief President Joe Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday
On Thursday, Psaki indicated the photos would held back – but floated the idea of an organized press tour.
‘Well first let me say that the White House and we all in the administration support finding a way to grant access to the media to the [Health and Human Services] facilities or the shelters where these children are are staying for a temporary period of time before they are placed with family members or with sponsored homes,’ she said.
Fifteen-month-old Matias Marin sits on the lap of his mother Naciel Marin, 23, of Nicaragua, as they wait for travel instructions to Wisconsin at a bus station in Brownsville, Texas, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. The Marin family left their native Nicaragua a month and half ago to seek asylum in the U.S.
A large group of migrants from Central America is gathered after being apprehended by Border Patrol in Penitas, Texas on Friday, March 12th, 2021
Psaki was asked if there was any connection between a vaccine loan to Mexico and policy asks for that country. She denied any such linkage
‘The Office of Refugee Resettlement is has not been hosting, as you’ve noted, media tours of unaccompanied children facilities currently due to the COVID 19 pandemic,’ she said, ‘but we remain committed to transparency, and we’re considering potential options and we hope to have an update on that soon.’
Pressed on the images that Biden viewed, she said: ‘There was a private briefing – an internal briefing from several weeks ago. We typically don’t provide those materials publicly. But we do want you to be able to, or a pool of media, to be able to have your own visuals and get your own footage of these facilities.’
Psaki also walked back her own comment during the Thursday briefing when she referred to a ‘crisis’ at the border. That is a word that HHS head Alejandro Mayorkas pointedly would not use during his own turn at the White House podium. Instead, Mayorkas called it ‘undoubtedly difficult’ at a House hearing Wednesday.
Psaki was speaking about a simultaneous push to lend Mexico and Canada AstraZeneca vaccine doses, even as the U.S. seeks commitments from Mexico on immigration.
‘There have been expectations set … unrelated to any vaccine doses or requests for them that they would be partners in dealing with the crisis on the border. And there have been requests unrelated for doses of these vaccines,’ she said, denying a connection. ‘Every relationship has multiple layers of conversations that are happening at the same time,’ she explained.
When reminded by a reporter that she had used the word ‘crisis’ – which is out of step with what the administration calls it – she said ‘challenges on the border.’
Asked if it reflected a change in position, Psaki replied: ‘Nope,’ and quickly moved on.
She provided the detail about the photos Wednesday amid an uproar over a flood of unaccompanied children at the border – with the government holding more than 3,000 of them beyond the three days set by law inside Customs and Border Patrol facilities.
‘He talks to plenty of officials. He also has received a briefing with photos, and directly from his team that went and visited the border,’ she said.
She then confirmed to DailyMail.com that Biden has specifically been shown photographs from inside facilities where unaccompanied children are being held upon arrival. The administration has confirmed in some cases they are held for more than the three days that federal law limits for such facilities.
‘Yes that was part of the briefing he received when his team came back,’ she said.
Psaki bristled when DailyMail.com asked whether Biden approved of what he saw and if conditions looked okay to him.
‘I certainly did not say that. The Border Patrol facilities are not facilities made for children. He is committed to expediting the processing at the border – one of the reasons he wanted a briefing from people who have been in there so he can see himself, what it looks like,’ she said.