Jen Psaki lauded Joe Biden on Tuesday for making improvements at the southern border while she still refused to call it a 'crisis' and blamed former President Donald Trump for the mass migration and overflowing immigration system.
'After four years of an immigration system rooted in destructive and chaotic policies, President Biden is taking the challenge head on and building a fair, orderly and human immigration system,' the White House press secretary said at the top of her briefing.
Psaki launched into a list of accomplishments related to the crisis, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) nearly doubling their rate processing unaccompanied minor migrants and working to reunify families.
Despite improvement in CBP facilities and processing times, the number of illegal crossings have not slowed and the crisis is in full swing.
'Clearly we're not done, there's a lot of work ahead,' Psaki told reporters. 'Migration is a dynamic and evolving challenge, but the president has a plan and we are working on implementing it.'Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The administration has repeatedly refused to address the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis at the southern border – calling it everything from a 'situation' to an 'issue'.
White House Press Secretary lauded President Joe Biden for fixing massive overcrowding at Customs and Border Protection facilities at the southern border. 'After four years of an immigration system rooted in destructive and chaotic policies, President Biden is taking the challenge head on,' she said
DHS released photos Monday showing near-empty border facilities to tout an 88% drop in the number of unaccompanied minor migrants in CBP custody – with the majority now transferred to Health and Human Services facilities
Despite improvements in CBP facilities, the number of illegal crossers has not slowed
At the end of March, the White House announced Biden put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the administration's response to the situation, which saw facilities reaching several times its capacities.
In the five weeks since then, Harris has done little in her role as 'border czar' and has even attempted to redefine her role as focusing only on 'root causes' in Central America and not in the U.S.
Harris revealed Tuesday the U.S. is sending millions in aid to Central American countries and blamed 'corrupt' governments for the surge in migrants heading north at her first public event as 'border czar.'Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
'The United States has announced we will send an additional $310 million to the region,' she said.
Her comments come as the administration plans to push Congress on passing a bill that will send $4 billion in aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador over the next four years.
During her remarks at the 51st Annual Washington Conference on the Americas Harris underlined her role addressing 'root causes' of migration.
'We want to help people find hope at home,' Harris said in encouraging people to stay in their home countries. 'And so we are focused on addressing both the acute factors and the root causes of migration.'
She did not mention the border at all in her speech.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday a dramatic drop – by 88 per cent – in the number of unaccompanied minors in CBP custody.
New numbers, touted by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, show only 677 remain in CBP facilities when on March 28 there were 5,767 in custody.
CBP has been able to almost double the rate it processes children and more quickly transfer them to shelters and emergency housing facilities set up by Heath and Human Services.
The agency released photos of facilities showing see-through pens nearly empty, with just a few unaccompanied minor migrants remaining. It juxtaposed the April 30 photographs with images taken March 17 showing massive overcrowding.
DHS released images from it's Donna, Texas facility taken on April 30 showing the sharp change from images the month prior
The same facility shown above on March 30 was overflowing with unaccompanied minors migrants who were apprehended crossing the border without parents or adult family members
A graph from DHS shows UAC in Customs and Border Protection custody was on the rise until the end of March, when it took a sharp downward trend as kids are transferred to other facilities
'In March, we faced a critical challenge at our border. The men and women of DHS have been working tirelessly over the past several weeks to respond and rebuild,' Mayorkas said in a statement on the improving numbers. 'Their efforts have produced dramatic results – results that ensure the safety and security of both the migrants we encounter and the American people.'
Immigration holding facilities were massively overcrowded with the surge in unaccompanied minor apprehensions at the southern border in the first few months of Biden's administration.
At some points facilities were pushed near 16 times their max capacities. In late March, the largest CBP facility for migrant children was at 1,640 per cent capacity with 3,200 minors housed in an area designed for only 250 people.
In March, these children were spending an average of 130 hours in custody of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Usually, CBP has a three-day legal timeframe to transfer unaccompanied alien children, or UACs, to HHS.
Mayorkas says they are now only being held for an average of 20 hours before transfer.
'The progress we have made is dramatic,' Mayorkas told reporters during a call Sunday.
HHS, according to figures from last week, is housing more than 22,500 unaccompanied children in shelters and emergency housing facilities.
Empty benches line the floors of the temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas on April 30
In March, 19,000 unaccompanied minor migrants were taken into federal custody – an all-time monthly high
CBP does not have full-time child welfare professionals to take on cases of children arriving alone at the border – HHS does have individuals trained to care for migrant minors and case managers focused on reunification.
The U.S. saw an all-time monthly high of UAC crossings with nearly 19,000 entered into custody in March, which overwhelmed the system set up to process minors arriving alone.
Biden's administration has started setting up temporary facilities to help alleviate the border