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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday refused to ensure that the Biden administration would step up security at the US-Mexico border, as she was grilled about disturbing video of smugglers dropping kids over a 14-foot wall in New Mexico.
The clip, tweeted Wednesday by a border patrol agent, shows two little girls, aged 5 and 3, being dropped over the barrier by smugglers in the dead of night, before the kids were rescued by authorities.
“I’ve seen the video, and I think any of us who saw the video were incredibly alarmed by the steps of smugglers, ones that we have been quite familiar with,” said Psaki during her daily press briefing.
But pressed on what steps the Biden administration is taking to prevent a repeat of the potentially deadly tactic, Psaki questioned the motives of the reporter who posed the question, Fox News’ Peter Doocy.
“Are you concerned more about the kids’ safety, or are you concerned about kids getting in?” she asked. “Tell me more about your concern.”
Informed by Doocy that he was asking about the children’s safety, and that Psaki had indicated that is the White House’s main concern, Psaki said, “Of course it is. Which is why I’m often surprised by some of the line of questioning here.
“But I will say that our concern and our focus is on sending a clear message to the region that this is not the time to come,” she continued. “[That] you should not send your kids on this treacherous journey. That these smugglers are preying on vulnerabilities in these communities.”
Psaki did not directly respond when asked if the White House was considering stepping up border security in light of the video.
But, reiterating a position previously stated by President Biden, she said that the White House was aiming to address underlying causes driving migration in the first place, a task delegated to Vice President Kamala Harris.
“There’s a lot of issues and steps we need to take to address root causes. So of course our concern is for the safety of these kids,” she said. “These border patrol agents who saved these kids deserve our thanks and our gratitude for ensuring their safety.”
Since Biden was inaugurated and began dismantling the more stringent immigration policies of former President Donald Trump, tens of thousands of Central American migrants have flocked to the crossing.
That number includes thousands of unaccompanied children, many of whom have been crammed into tightly-packed detention facilities for days at a time while awaiting transfer to federal shelters elsewhere.
The Biden administration has granted little media access to the centers and the border in general, but images that have trickled out show migrants packed densely together and confined to holding areas with few comforts.
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