White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted that the U.S. border is not open during a Tuesday press conference, after former President Obama called the prospect of open borders “unsustainable.”
“Immigration is tough. It always has been because, on the one hand, I think we are naturally a people that wants to help others,” Obama told ABC’s Good Morning America in an interview which aired Tuesday morning. “At the same time, we’re a nation state. We have borders. The idea that we can just have open borders is something that…as a practical matter, is unsustainable.”
A reporter noted Obama’s comments and asked Psaki, “Does President Biden agree with President Obama that ‘open borders’ is unsustainable?”
“We don’t have open borders. So yes, he agrees,” Psaki responded.
The comments come after over 30,000 migrants crossed the Rio Grande into Del Rio, Texas, over the course of two weeks. As many as 14,000 migrants at a time camped under the city’s International Bridge, until the camp was finally dismantled last Friday.
Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Sunday that about 12,000 migrants who entered Del Rio were subsequently released into the U.S., while another 5,000 were still being processed by his agency. On Tuesday, Psaki said this should not be taken by potential migrants as a sign that they may succeed in remaining in the U.S.
“There’s an immigration process, immigration proceedings—of course people get their day in court, but they go through that process,” Psaki said.
However, many migrants — a majority according to some estimates — don’t appear at their hearing, remaining in the country illegally.
A reporter countered that immigration proceedings take “two and a half years on average,” which seems “long term” to potential migrants. Psaki warned that those proceedings could include “detention in ICE facilities,” wearing “ankle bracelets,” and other measures.
“It’s not an easy process or an easy system, and absolutely nothing is guaranteed,” Psaki said.