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.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Shanghai: China’s Potemkin Village
Following a recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed a month-long draconian lockdown on the residents of Shanghai. The CCP has used the outbreak to persecute its own citizens, including through forced evictions and quarantines, and placing alarms on doors to prevent COVID-19 people from leaving their homes. The harsh measures have resulted in food and healthcare shortages and separation of families.
But of course, we wouldn’t know that by reading the CCP-run press readily available in the United States. Instead of presenting the facts, the CCP engages in a comprehensive propaganda campaign that props up Shanghai as a Chinese Potemkin village. The CCP media asserts that China’s actions in Shanghai are benevolent and wise, while Western criticism is a product of malice. Chinese state-run media also insists that the Shanghai lockdown promotes economic stability in China and the world.
Claim 1: China Has the Best Policy for Combating COVID-19
The CCP media portray the Shanghai lockdown as the best and ideal policy. As cited by a XinhuaNet editorial, “China’s dynamic zero-COVID approach” is “the best option to save lives,” according to a “Rwandan researcher and publisher,” “…a miracle for us to learn,” according to a Kenyan scholar, and “a very ideal response,” according to Ethiopia’s National COVID-19 Response Task Force Coordinator. According to CCP media, Chinese citizens have greeted the Shanghai lockdown warmly, even with “[a] mixed sense of intensity, unity and hopefulness,” according to China Daily.
Claim 2: The West Hypocritically Defames China
The CCP press also accuses the West of lying about the Shanghai lockdown, and using COVID policies for nefarious ends. According to XinhuaNet, “Shanghai…has never imposed what Western media described as a ‘lockdown.’” Other CCP editorials actually accuse the West of malice. One Global Times editorial claims that the lockdown “has been deliberately exaggerated by the West.” Another Global Times editorial asserts that the Western approach of “coexisting with the virus” amounts to a way “…to drive out a large number of the vulnerable people with low immunity,” and a form of “cruel social Darwinism.”
Claim 3: China’s COVID Policies Result in an Economic Windfall to China and the World
The CCP also portrays the lockdown as necessary to achieve great economic growth in China and beyond. One Global Times editorial, while conceding that the lockdown amounted to a “sealing-off,” it is “a temporary measure to better resume work and production and to make the economy and society function more effectively. Its effectiveness has been proven.” According to another Global Times editorial, China’s policy is “widely considered to be the best strategy…to both contain the epidemic and ensure stable economic development.”
In an Orwellian fashion, Chinese press claims that China is solving, not causing, the world’s economic problems. According to XinhuaNet, “China has played a decisive role in stabilizing the global economy and resuming the supply chain disrupted by COVID-19.” Citing a Bloomberg article, the same XinhuaNet editorial claims that China “has prevented a huge number of deaths at home and ensured that everything from iPhones and Teslas to fertilizer and car parts continues to flow to the rest of the world.” Chinese citizens, of course, are collateral damage: Ji Qiwei, vice-general manager of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle, stated that “The domestic market may be impacted a little by the COVID-19 outbreak this year, but our export market will continue to see strong growth,” according to China Daily.
While the world continues to suffer economic and human damage as a result of COVID-19, China continues to revise history regarding its role. Through its propaganda in its English publications of Xinhua, China Daily, and Global Times, China seeks to portray itself as a benevolent force in the fight against the virus.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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