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Jen Psaki denies ‘kids in cages’ amid migrant children facilities reopening

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday defended the Biden administration’s reopening of a migrant facility in Texas for children, saying it is a “temporary reopening” amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while also denying that they are housing “kids in cages.”

Psaki was asked by Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy about why the Biden administration was reopening a temporary facility for migrant children in Texas, in light of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris‘ past statements against facilities for migrant children while Donald Trump was president.
 
“Well, first, the policy of this administration […] is not to expel unaccompanied children who arrive at the border,” Psaki replied.

“The process—how it works—is that Customs and Border Control continue to transfer unaccompanied children to the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement,” she continued, adding that it “can take a couple of days.”

Because of COVID-19 safety protocols, Psaki said, the social distancing requirements and capacity limits at Refugee Resettlement Shelters have “been significantly reduced, because of course you can’t have a child in every bed,” adding that “[t]here needs to be spacing” in order to “ensure the health and safety of these kids”.
 
“So it’s a temporary reopening during COVID-19,” the press secretary said. “Our “intention is very much to close it, but we want to ensure that we can follow COVID protocols as unaccompanied minors come into the United States.”
 
“But it’s the same facility that was open for a month in the Trump administration,” Doocy responded. “Summer of 2019—that is when Joe Biden said, ‘Under Trump, there have been horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages.’ And Kamala Harris said, basically, babies in cages is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government. So how is this any different than that?”
 
The quote from Biden comes from a Miami Herald op-ed published June 24, 2019 about his Latin America policy. During Trump’s presidency, Biden repeatedly criticized him for the facilities, saying during an October debate that migrant children were “ripped from their [parents’] arms and separated.”

In July 2019, when Harris was a senator and presidential candidate, she said that Trump “has pushed policies that’s been about putting babies in cages at the border in the name of security,” instead calling it “a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government.”

“We very much feel that way,” Psaki replied.
 
“These are facilities—let me be clear here,” Psaki said.

“One, there’s a pandemic going on. I’m sure you’re not suggesting that we have children right next to each other in ways that are not COVID safe, are you?” she asked Doocy.
 
“I’m suggesting that Kamala Harris said that […] putting people in this facility was a human rights abuse committed by the United States government,” he asserted. “And Joe Biden said, ‘Under Trump, there have been horrifying scenes of border’—’at the border of kids being kept in cages.'”
 
“Now it’s not under Trump,” Doocy added. “It’s under Biden.”
 
“This is not kids being kept in cages,” Psaki retorted.
 
“But it’s the same facility,” Doocy pressed her.
 
“This is a facility that was opened that’s going to follow the same standards as other HHS facilities. It is not a replication. Certainly not,” Psaki said. “That is never our intention of replicating the immigration policies of the past administration.
 
“But we are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border. That would be inhumane. That is not what we are going to do here, as an administration,” she continued. “We need to find places that are safe under COVID protocols for kids to be, where they can have access to education, health and mental services consistent with their best interest. Our goal is for them to then be transferred to families or sponsors.”
 
“So this is our effort to ensure that kids are treated—are not close—in close proximity and that we are abiding by the health and safety standards that the government has been set out,” Psaki concluded.

https://twitter.com/TVNewsHQ/status/1364271933605478402

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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