‘It’s not funny’: Peter Doocy, Jen Psaki clash over migrants and reopening schools
White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy on Wednesday clashed over the current surge of migrants at the southern border, specifically about unaccompanied minors in detention facilities and schools reopening when it comes to CDC guidelines for both.
Peter Doocy: “You’ve been telling migrants from right there for a month now—all the way back to February 10—that now is not the time to come, but they are coming in bigger numbers every day. So, do you have a messaging problem?”
“Well, I would say that in the last administration, we had a morality problem,” Psaki replied, “and children were being pulled from the arms of their parents and kids were being sent back on a treacherous journey and that’s not the approach of this administration.”
“Certainly we understand that means there will be more kids who are crossing the border,” she continued. “We made a policy decision that that was the right, humane step to take. But I think it’s also important for people to understand that the vast majority of people who come to our border are turned away, are sent back to their countries.”
Psaki went on to say that she’s talking about unaccompanied minors, adding that the Biden administration is focusing on ensuring the children have safe places to go with a variety of resources for them.
Doocy then pressed her about concerns that Biden’s immigration policies are encouraging more migrants to come to the border.
“Since the last administration is gone—tomorrow is 50 days of Biden—and there are migrants showing up wearing t-shirts that say, ‘Biden, please let us in’,” Doocy brought up, asking her, “Why doesn’t he come out and just say now is not the time?”
“Well, he actually did an interview with Univision about a week or a week and a half ago where he conveyed a similar message,” Psaki noted. “And we’ve conveyed that at every opportunity that we have.”
“We are digging our way out of a broken and dismantled system,” she added before detailing the steps the Biden administration has taken to face the developing situation and to reverse the Trump administration’s policies.
Doocy challenged her regarding CDC guidelines pertaining to the migrant detention facilities that the press secretary mentioned.
“Does the White House think that it’s a problem when the CDC tells these migrant shelter facilities that they can be at full capacity if they are careful about COVID—many of them do,” the Fox News correspondent asked, “but when the CDC tells schools that they can open in person at full capacity, many of them don’t?”
“Is there a school in particular that you have as an example?” Psaki tried to clarify with him.
“Are most of the schools in this country at full capacity with in-person learning?” Doocy rephrased his question.
“Is there a specific school, though, that is not following the CDC guidelines of implementing the mitigation steps so that they can reopen?” Psaki asked again.
“The CDC is saying […] every school can be at full capacity,” Doocy claimed.
Psaki explained that the CDC has given schools eight steps that they should take before fully reopening.
“But since [schools] are not all back, from an administration position, or from your perspective, have the Border Patrol unions and the [Department of Health and Human Services] unions been easier to work with than the teachers unions?” Doocy asked.
Psaki argued he was “mixing different circumstances,” but Doocy pressed her, saying they both involve “children all in tight quarters.”
She squinted her face and laughed at the comparison, which spurred the Fox News correspondent to say, “It’s not funny.”
Psaki went on to repeat what she said about the CDC’s mitigation steps for reopening schools, saying that the reopening of schools involves “different circumstances” than migrant facilities.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.