- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday called the migrant surge on the U.S. southern border a “crisis” before correcting herself.

Ms. Psaki made the apparent faux pas following weeks of the Biden administration attempting to downplay the situation on the border, characterizing it as a “challenge” instead of a crisis as thousands of migrants continue to flood into the country.

Ms. Psaki was responding to a question about whether there were expectations, or a “quid pro quo” agreement, that the Mexican government would assist the U.S. with the migrant surge after the U.S. supplied them with millions of vaccine doses.

“There have been expectations set outside of, unrelated to, any vaccine doses or requests for them, that they would be partners in dealing with the crisis on the border,” Ms. Psaki responded.

Another reporter later asked Ms. Psaki about her use of the term “crisis,” and she immediately tried to correct the record.

“When you were talking about how to go about diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Mexico, you said ‘crisis on the border’,” the reporter said.

“Challenges on the border,” Ms. Psaki interjected.

“OK,” the reporter responded. “But so that doesn’t reflect any change in the administration’s view of things?”

“Nope,” Ms. Psaki responded bluntly before moving onto another question.

The press secretary has repeatedly in the past refused to describe the influx of migrants as a “crisis,” even while facilities for unaccompanied minors are reopening at pre-pandemic levels under President Biden.

“Look, I don’t think we need to sit here and put new labels on what we have already conveyed is challenging, what we have conveyed is a top priority for the president, what our policy teams are working on every single day,” she said last week.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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