- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2021

The White House is taking issue with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott‘s assertion that President Biden’s “open borders policies” on immigration are creating a crisis at the nation’s southern border.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Republican governor is feeding into the confusion over what is happening along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I know Gov. Abbott down in Texas has expressed some of his concerns, but many of those have not been based in facts,” Ms. Psaki told reporters Thursday. 

“Gov. Abbott has referred to what is happening at the border as ‘open borders’ — as us having an open-borders policy,” she said. “That is absolutely incorrect.”

During a trip to the Rio Grande Valley this week, Mr. Abbott blamed the Biden administration for the surge of immigrants trying to jump the border.  

“This crisis is a result of President Biden’s open-border policies,” Mr. Abbott said. “It invites illegal immigration and is creating a humanitarian crisis in Texas right now that will grow increasingly worse by the day.”

Mr. Biden has moved away from former President Trump’s hardline stance on immigration and sought to roll back many of his policies.

It has coincided with a surge of immigrants seeking to enter the United States.

At the daily briefing Thursday, Ms. Psaki said the “border is not open” and said the vast majority of immigrants caught at the border are being denied entry.

She said Mr. Abbott has falsely stated that Customs and Border Protection officers are not receiving vaccinations, and that immigrants with COVID-19 are being released into the state. 

“Again, we like to deal with facts around here,” Ms. Psaki said. “There is no higher priority than the health and safety of our federal workforce, and the Department of Homeland Security and CBP has been clear that currently, more than 64,000 front-line DHS employees, including members of U.S. Border Patrol have received vaccination.”

The Washington Times has reported that Border Patrol is releasing migrants into the community without knowing whether they are COVID-19-positive or not, hoping that local jurisdictions will do testing.

In some cases, they are testing and found a positivity rate up to 25%.

But those localities say they don’t have the capacity to hold them. So they are getting on buses and disappearing into the United States.

Ms. Psaki, meanwhile, said DHS and FEMA are working with local officials and NGOs to help provide COVID-19 testing for families released from Border Patrol facilities.

She criticized Mr. Abbott for refusing to partner with FEMA to help deal with COVID-19-positive migrants.

“The question is why is he standing in the way of local communities getting the funding and support they need to help with testing, isolation and quarantining efforts,” she said.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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