Psaki dodges when asked about surge of migrants at border: That's not our program, that's DHS's program

This reminds me of the time she spun Rochelle Walensky’s comment that teachers didn’t need to be vaccinated before returning to class as Walensky speaking in her “personal capacity,” not stating the official CDC line — even though Walensky is the head of the CDC and was speaking at a White House briefing. When Psaki feels cornered by a question about something a top executive official has said, she tends to retreat into a “them, not us” formulation. Walensky thinks class can be safe without vaccinations? Well, that’s her, not us.

DHS thinks there’s a crisis at the border in which the number of unaccompanied minors has tripled in two weeks? That’s them, not necessarily us.

She, uh, knows that DHS’s program *is* the White House’s program, right? They’re an executive branch agency, the one in charge of immigration.

Does she mean to imply that Biden has different data than his own Homeland Security department does? Because that would be an interesting twist in how this administration operates.

She was also conspicuously shy today about calling the situation at the border a “crisis” even though (a) the number of minors coming, sometimes with family and sometimes without, is higher than it’s been in years, (b) every projection sees it getting much worse as the weather warms and the pandemic eases, and (c) Team Joe is already running short of shelter space in which to house the kids and has taken to considering hotels and military bases to provide them with somewhere to bunk while they’re processed. That’s how desperate they are right now, before we’ve seen the worst of this. Not a crisis?

The Times delicately describes what Biden’s facing at the border as a “challenge.” But the singular fact about that challenge remains Biden’s apparent unwillingness to view it as much of a problem at all. Why would he? He created the “challenge,” keeping a promise he made to progressives to make the United States much more friendly to immigrants, legal or otherwise. In fact, while the Border Patrol and HHS are trying to cope with a crush of kids seeking admission to the U.S., ICE has been told to lay off illegals unless they pose a special criminal threat:

The number of immigrants taken into custody by ICE officers fell more than 60 percent in February compared to the last three months of the Trump administration, according to data reviewed by The Washington Post. Deportations fell by nearly the same amount, ICE statistics show…

The Biden administration has issued temporary guidelines to ICE officers narrowing their enforcement priorities to focus on national security threats, recent border crossers and criminals with aggravated felony convictions who pose a threat to public safety. Officers must seek permission from senior supervisors in writing before attempting to arrest fugitives who do not fit those categories, a change that Biden officials say will make better use of the agency’s resources…

ICE arrests and deportations fell dramatically during the pandemic, as the agency took steps to protect its officers from potential exposure to the cornavirus while also reducing occupancy levels at immigration jails. Last month ICE carried out about 2,600 deportations, down from 5,583 in January, the latest figures show.

Fox’s sources are claiming DHS is so desperate for staffing on the border crisis — I mean “challenge” — that employees are being asked to volunteer to help. The new numbers on border-crossings from CBP are reportedly coming tomorrow, and they’re rough:

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is expected to release its February numbers, including apprehensions of migrants at the border, on Wednesday. Two sources familiar with the numbers told Fox News that apprehensions are expected to be around 100,000, up from 78,000 in January

“It’s going to be insane come spring,” one CBP source told Fox News.

To put that in perspective, Fox notes, border apprehensions in February were just 76,000 two years ago, the last time we had a border crisis. In May of 2019, they reached 144,000. Are we headed for 200,000 in May 2021?

Biden’s now caught between border hawks who want him to act to limit the surge somehow and progressives who are furious at seeing kids being held by the Border Patrol temporarily instead of expeditiously sent to HHS shelters or released into the U.S. The fact that DHS just reopened a Texas facility that was closed under Trump has only irritated the left more. If for no other reason than to keep Biden’s immigration agenda from being completely coopted by the AOC wing (remember, Team Joe is still allowing CBP to turn away adult asylum-seekers for pandemic reasons), the GOP is starting to get more active on the issue. Kevin McCarthy is leading a delegation to the border next week to highlight the crisis, which will help push it further into mainstream media. And you-know-who weighed in today about it in one of his first policy statements since leaving office, another useful means of galvanizing right-wing opinion. I’ll leave you with that. Hopefully the GOP is now officially done sleeping on this issue.