The Biden administration doubled down Thursday on Veep Kamala Harris’ claim that the US border with Mexico is “secure” despite a surge of illegal crossings and overwhelmed migrant processing centers.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre backed up Harris — who was skewered for insisting earlier this week that “the border is secure” despite a broken immigration system that “needs to be fixed” — at a press briefing.
The ongoing damage control from Jean-Pierre included her blaming President Donald Trump’s administration for “decimating” the country’s immigration system and mistakenly referring to GOP Sen. Ted Cruz as the governor of Texas while she got grilled by reporters over whether the White House stood by Harris’ “secure border” statement.
“What we stand by is that we are doing everything that we can to make sure that we follow the process that’s been put forth,” Jean-Pierre said. “That’s why we have historic funding to do just that, to make sure that the folks that we encounter at the border be removed or expelled.”
More migrants are being removed or expelled this year than any previous year, she said, noting that a new anti-human-smuggling campaign resulted in 3,000 arrests in the first three months of its launch.
“I’m just going to refer back to the vice president — we agree with her saying that there’s a lot of work to do, right? [Harris] also said that in that very statement,” Jean-Pierre said. “We agree that the border is secure, but there is still more work to be done.”
Reporter Jacqui Heinrich of Fox News asked the press secretary, “Do you think that Americans believe that the border is secure?”
The spokeswoman replied, “What I can tell you is the record and the process that we have been using to make sure that we do our best to secure the border.
“We do our best to make sure that we fix a broken system that was left behind by the last administration, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Heinrich later asked if the White House thought voters felt they were being “lied to” as they see images of crowds of migrants amid reports of overwhelmed US immigration processing centers.
“So again, it is a broken system, the immigration system, and it was decimated by the last administration,” the spokeswoman said.
The press secretary said repairs to the Trump border wall have cost $2.6 million between fiscal year 2019 and 2021, and that the partially constructed wall was breached 3,000 times. The Biden administration has “done a lot of work here to fix this system,” she said.
The press briefing came as Republican governors continue to ship migrants to Democratic strongholds such as New York City and Chicago. In the past two days, hundreds also have been dumped in Martha’s Vineyard and outside the vice president’s Washington, DC, home.
Jean-Pierre wouldn’t say if the administration thought the action by Republican governors was illegal but complained about the treatment of migrants, who include children.
“We have had a process in place,” she said. “There’s a legal way of doing this and for managing migrants. Republican governors interfering in that process and using migrants as political pawns is, is shameful, is reckless and just plain wrong.
“And remember, these are people who are fleeing communism, who are fleeing hardship,” she added, before mixing up Cruz with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and saying “they should ask Texas Gov. Ted Cruz and Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott why they voted against the president’s request for record funding for the Department of Homeland Security.”
Cruz later retweeted video of the gaffe, commenting “Rent free.”