New York Times reporter Michael Shear cornered White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby — during a Friday briefing — about the administration’s handling of the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Shear pointed out the fact that humanitarian groups have sounded more alarms about the Biden administration’s treatment of migrants than they did when former President Donald Trump was in the White House.
Reporter: Groups are calling Biden’s border policy a “humanitarian disgrace.”
Biden Spokesman John Kirby: “Obviously we take a different view.” pic.twitter.com/851VxA9V7x
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 6, 2023
“I spent a long time covering immigration stuff during the Trump years. I — I never saw more damning quotes from immigration advocacy groups and human rights groups during the Trump years than — as I saw yesterday towards this administration,” Shear began.
Shear went on to read a quote from the head of a refugee group, quoting her as saying that the Biden administration’s most recent immigration policies amounted to “a humanitarian disgrace” — and he said that she was far from the only one who felt that way.
“That was echoed across the board in literally scores of emails I got from every humanitarian group,” he continued. “What do you all — what does the administration say to the overwhelming consensus from people who advocate on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees and migrants that what the president did yesterday was ‘a humanitarian disgrace’?”
“Well, obviously, we take a different view,” Kirby objected, arguing that Biden was attempting to strike a balance between allowing refugees to safely enter the United States and encouraging legal immigration while also curtailing illegal immigration and making sure that the border was secure.
A bit later in the briefing, Jean-Pierre called Shear out directly — and he pushed the issue again.
“The advocacy folks and the community of people who are lawyers and advocates and humanitarian experts, what they would say is the president is using the tools, and he’s using them in a harsh and unbalanced way,” Shear said, going on to note that the end result was that the Biden administration was likely to face lawsuits from those advocacy groups in much the same way that the Trump administration had.
“And they — you know, lawsuits are going to be filed in the same way that lawsuits, you know, were filed against the Trump administration over and over and over again about their immigration policies. But, you know — this time, it’ll be against you guys,” he continued.
Pointing back to the 2020 presidential campaign, when Biden spent much of his time explaining all the ways that he would set himself apart from Trump — particularly when it came to immigration — Shear noted that going down the same road put the administration “in a really awkward place” going forward.
“I — I have to say, Michael, I take — look, I understand what you’re saying. But I do take — you know, I do take issue with comparing us to Donald Trump, who —” Jean-Pierre objected.
Shear protested: “It’s not me. I’m just — I’m —”
“No, no, no — no, I know you are the messenger, and you are giving me the information,” Jean Pierre replied, adding, “I am responding to what you just said, which is: You’re talking about an administration who had a policy — right? — that tore babies away from their moms, from their parents, from their families. That was the president’s — President — the last administration — that president’s philosophy or policies. And that’s what they did. And this is not this president.”
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