The White House defended its policy on dealing with undocumented migrants and COVID-19 hours after announcing that international travel restrictions would be loosened for the fully vaccinated, saying illegal immigration is "not the same."
President Joe Biden's team had announced earlier on Monday that fully vaccinated travelers would soon be permitted to fly into the United States. Press secretary Jen Psaki was asked why similar protocols do not apply to the migrant surge at the southern border.
Fox News's Peter Doocy pressed Psaki on whether the migrants arriving at 20-year highs are being asked to provide proof of vaccination status or a negative test.
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"That's the policy for people who fly into the country," Doocy said. "So why if somebody walks into the country right across the river, does somebody ask them to see their vaccination card?"
"Let me explain to you again, Peter, how our process works," Psaki replied. "As individuals come across the border, they are both assessed for whether they have any symptoms. If they have symptoms, the intention is for them to be quarantined. That is our process."
Challenged on whether this is inconsistent with requiring lawful international travelers to provide proof of vaccination, Psaki denied that the two situations are analogous. "They're not intending to stay here for a lengthy period of time," she said of the migrants. "It's not the same thing."
The response was widely ridiculed on Twitter, especially by conservatives. "Bullcrap," tweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican,
The Biden administration had faced pressure to revisit the travel restrictions, especially from the European Union and United Kingdom, after deciding to leave them in place in July. It was widely speculated that the decision was timed to ease tensions over a series of diplomatic rows with European allies.
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients suggested to reporters on Monday that the change was timed to coincide with improved vaccination rates abroad. Psaki attributed the shift to the conclusions reached by Biden administration working groups studying the issue.
Psaki was also questioned about images showing Border Patrol agents rounding up Haitian migrants who have entered Del Rio, Texas, in large numbers and asked whether it was safe to deport them to their home country, which has been plagued by earthquakes and political turmoil.
The White House press secretary declined to defend the border patrol pictures, in which horseback-riding agents appear to wield lassos or whips, but also said the law would be enforced and she would need more information.
"I don't have the full context," Psaki said, adding, "I can't imagine what context would make that appropriate."
The Biden administration announced through the Department of Homeland Security on Saturday that it would move to expel a number of the Haitian migrants, many of whom had arrived from third countries.
"The Biden Administration has reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey. Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion," DHS said in a statement. "Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and welfare of border communities and to the lives of migrants themselves, and should not be attempted."
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Immigration has consistently been one of the issues for which Biden has received his lowest marks in the polls, as his administration has failed to grapple with the crisis at the border.
Biden's numbers on COVID-19 had been the high point, anchoring overall job approval ratings above 50%. But now, even Biden's support there is down and his approval as a whole is underwater.
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Tags: News, White House, Joe Biden, Jen Psaki, Coronavirus, Immigration, Border Crisis, Travel
Original Author: W. James Antle III
Original Location: White House: Migrants don't need travelers' vaccine proof because 'they're not intending to stay'