In the latest of an increasingly target-rich field of gaffes and blunders, White House Press Secretary has drawn ire from commentators over her statements on why migrants aren’t required to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease.
According to Newsweek, During Monday’s press briefing, Fox News correspondent Pete Doocy asked Psaki if officials are asking the people crossing the southern border—specifically the thousands of migrants setting up camp in Del Rio, Texas—for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
“As individuals come across the border, they are both assessed for whether they have any symptoms,” Psaki told Doocy. “If they have symptoms, the intention is for them to be quarantined. That is our process.
“They’re not intending to stay here for a lengthy period of time. I don’t think it’s the same thing. It’s not the same thing….We are expelling individuals based on Title 42 specifically because of COVID, because we want to prevent a scenario where large numbers of people are gathering posing threats to the community and to the migrants themselves.”
Newsweek goes on to report that “Title 42 allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of the virus. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters on Monday that a majority of migrants continue to be removed from the U.S. under the guidance.”
Yahoo News has reported that, 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.