One reporter noted that it’s been three weeks since Psaki was first asked about access for journalists inside facilities: “Why are we still not seeing any images inside these facilities?”
“The DHS oversees the Border Patrol facilities, and we want to work with them to ensure we can do respecting the privacy and obviously the health protocols required by COVID,” the press secretary said.
The reporter noted that the administration has not yet released photos either.
“Again we remain committed to sharing with all of you data on the number of kids crossing the border, the steps we’re taking, the work we’re doing to open up facilities, our own bar we’re setting for ourselves, improving the and expediting the timeline and the treatment of these children,” Psaki said. “And we remain committed to transparency. I don’t have an update for you on the timeline for access, but it’s certainly something we support.”
Psaki was asked about reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents were “frustrated” they couldn’t answer questions about what’s happening at these facilities or bring reporters inside. CBP officials told the Washington Examiner that Biden Homeland Security officials had “muzzled” spokespersons and other top agents to prevent them from speaking with the media.
“I certainly wouldn’t characterize it that way,” Psaki said. “But if our policy is keeping people quiet, we are not successful, and it is not our policy to prevent people from talking.” She pointed reporters to DHS for the logistics of press access.
Psaki said that President Biden had no plans to travel to the border because he received a briefing on the situation at the facilities from White House officials who had traveled there, complete with photos.
“And it looks okay to him?” one reporter asked. “I certainly did not say that,” Psaki replied.
One reporter asked why the White House couldn’t release the photos Biden had seen and why the team that had traveled to the border couldn’t hold their own briefing. The press secretary said she’d talk to the team on releasing the photos and providing a public update.
The southern border has faced a surge of Latin American children, many of them minors, in recent weeks. Last week, CBP encountered 565 unaccompanied children at the border per day, up from an average of 313 last month, NBC News reported.
More than 4,000 migrant children were being held by the Border Patrol custody as of Sunday, including at least 3,000 in custody longer than the 72-hour limit set by a court order, a U.S. official told The Associated Press.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday the U.S. is expected to reach the highest number of people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in two decades. He said that the U.S. is expelling “most single adults and families.”
A senior CBP official told Fox News on Tuesday the agency is taking in more unaccompanied alien children than it can process.
“I don’t see how we keep this many kids when we can’t find sponsors,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
The Biden administration had previously predicted that as many as 13,000 migrant children could cross the border in May.
Fox News’ Brittany De Lea and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.