White House press secretary Jen Psaki denied on Tuesday that the Biden administration was placing unaccompanied migrant children “in cages,” after the administration reopened several detention facilities that had been closed since 2019.
The Biden administration is contending with a surge in migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, including large numbers of unaccompanied minors. In response, the administration has reopened a tent facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, and a shelter in Miami, Fla., to house migrant children.
However, the Texas holding center is the same facility where Democratic politicians accused the Trump administration of putting “kids in cages” during a similar surge in border crossings.
“This is not kids being kept in cages,” Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. “This is a facility that was opened that’s going to follow the same standards as other [Health and Human Services] facilities.”
Psaki added, “We are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border….We need to find places that are safe, under COVID protocols, for kids to be, where they can have access to education, health and mental services, consistent with their best interests.”
Psaki said the facilities would be operated according to guidelines to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
The reopening of the shelters for migrant children come after President Biden called to close border detention facilities during his campaign.
“Close them down,” Biden told an audience in South Carolina in August when asked how to improve conditions at border detention facilities. “By the way, we don’t need them.”