Chris Wallace slams Jen Psaki over border access for media, says Joe Biden is 'less transparent than Trump'
The Biden administration is 'committed to transparency and providing access to media,' said Psaki on 'Fox News Sunday'
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared on 'Fox News Sunday' over the weekend and was questioned by Fox News host Chris Wallace over President Joe Biden's administration's transparency with respect to the events at the southern border of the United States. The tense exchange showed Wallace grilling Psaki over the lack of media access to migrant facilities at the border.
The Fox News host also told Psaki that the Biden administration is being "less transparent than the Trump administration." Many of Wallace's questions centered around the conditions of minors at the Border Patrol facilities, and he noted that recent pictures all came from members of Congress. Psaki appeared on the network on Sunday, March 28. Wallace asked her, "Jen, these kids are living in these conditions now. They're not living in these conditions some indeterminate time from now when the president says everything will be fixed. So why not allow reporters and camera crews in on a pool basis safely to take pictures and show the American people what's happening in those Border Patrol facilities right now?"
Psaki said that the president is "committed to that," as well as her and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Psaki told Wallace, "Just last week we had a pool camera providing footage to Fox News just last week into the shelters. We want to provide access into the Border Patrol facilities. We are mindful of the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic. We want to keep these kids safe." She also said that the Biden administration is "committed to transparency and providing access to media... and we're working to get that done as soon as we can."
Wallace also asked why the law about minors not being allowed to be at the migrant facilities for more than 72 hours was being disregarded as "many of them are there for ten days." Wallace then said, "At this point, in allowing access to border patrol facilities for reporters, you are being less transparent than the Trump administration."
"The Trump administration was turning away kids at the border and sending them back on the treacherous journey, or they were ripping kids from the arms of their parents. We're not doing that. We are committed to allowing cameras into the border patrol facilities, absolutely," Psaki responded.
She continued, "I would also say we are committed to solutions. That's why I noted that we reopened or opened three facilities that have almost 7,000 beds to allow for processing these kids more quickly out of the Border Patrol facilities. We absolutely agree these are not places for children and our focus is on solutions and moving them as quickly as possible."
"We're also making sure we are processing kids more quickly at the border. Some of these kids come with a phone number and a pocket. It might be of a parent. We want to make sure we are breaking through the red tape and getting them to their parents as quickly as possible," Psaki said.
The Biden administration continues to face a growing crisis at the border and Wallace's next round of questions to Psaki targetted the surge of illegal migrants at the border. "Let's start with the crisis on the border and what President Biden had to say about that this past week. On the surge of illegal immigration across the board, Mr. Biden said this: 'Nothing has changed. It happens every year.' But your own secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, says: 'We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.' So, who's wrong? The DHS secretary or the president?"
Psaki responded, "Well, Chris, first, factually, there was an increase of about 31 percent of people coming to the border during the final months of the Trump administration. There's been about a 29 percent increase since President Biden took office."
However, Wallace questioned the figures, saying, "You know, you can play with percentages, but in absolute numbers, these are record numbers. There are now 18,000 unaccompanied minors in US custody. There are new records being set, 500 to 800 each day."
Psaki responded, "Well, Chris, our objective is to take a different approach from the last of administration. We are not going to send children under the age of 18, kids under the age of 18, back on this treacherous journey. They are fleeing challenging economic circumstances, hurricanes, prosecution in some scenarios. It does not mean that they get to stay in the United States. It means their cases are adjudicated and we want to treat them humanely, make sure they are in a safe place while their cases are adjudicated. That's what we're talking about here."
Watch the interview highlights here: