White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the Biden administration’s border policy in a press briefing Wednesday, in the face of growing concern about the conditions that unaccompanied migrant children face in Border Patrol facilities and a lack of media access to those facilities.
“The Border Patrol facilities are not facilities made for children,” Psaki said.
Psaki said implementing the immigration priorities of President Joe Biden, which include not turning away unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border, “requires putting in place more effective and efficient processing at the border.”
“It’s going to take some time,” Psaki said.
Customs and Border Patrol encountered 565 unaccompanied children along the southern border on average per day last week, up from an average of 313 children per day in the prior month, NBC News reported.
Over 4,200 children are being held in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities, with 2,943 of those children being held over the 72-hour legal limit, according to data obtained by NBC News.
Members of the Biden administration have avoided calling the situation at the border a crisis, even as prominent lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have called the record numbers of unaccompanied children a humanitarian crisis.
The White House’s comments come as NBC News reported Wednesday the Biden administration is restricting what Border Patrol can share with media.
Multiple news organizations, including NBC News, have been denied requests for access to or photos from inside the processing facilities holding unaccompanied migrant children.
Asked at the briefing about press access at Border Patrol facilities, Psaki said: “We remain committed to sharing with all of you data on the number of kids crossing the border, the steps we’re taking, the work we’re doing to open up facilities.”
Psaki said the administration “fully support[s] transparency” and directed members of the press to the Department of Homeland Security for media requests.
The press secretary said Biden saw photos of the Border Patrol facilities when briefed on the situation by administration officials.