WH continues to get questions about the treatment of Haitians at the border

At a White House briefing on Wednesday, press secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question about the treatment of Haitians crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Psaki said that there would be an investigation into images of Customs and Border Patrol agents allegedly mistreating migrants in Del Rio, Texas, and defended the administration’s policy of deporting anyone who illegally crosses the border.

Video Transcript

- On the campaign trail, then candidate, now, President Biden, said, "We're going to restore our moral standing in the world and our historic role as a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers. How does what's happening on the border right now with Haitian refugees square with that?"

JEN PSAKI: Well, which aspect of what's happening at the border?

- What's happening with the Haitians?

JEN PSAKI: Do you mean the photos we've seen, or do you mean--

- [INAUDIBLE], the photos, yeah.

JEN PSAKI: Well, first, we understand and agree that this has been an incredibly heart wrenching issue. We've watched the photos of Haitians gathering under a bridge, many with families, and the horrific video of the CBP officers on horses using brutal and inappropriate measures against innocent people. I think it's important to address that, and separately address what our immigration policies are, and understand that people are combining them. But that's why I asked that question.

I would also reiterate that there is an investigation that will be completed by next week, which the secretary confirmed that will determine the next steps on both policy and personnel. All important questions people are asking, and in the interim, those individuals were placed on administrative leave and will not be interacting with any migrants. So as it relates to those photos and that horrific video, we're not going to stand for that kind of inhumane treatment. And obviously, we want this investigation to be completed rapidly.

I will say, on the broader question you were asking, the president remains committed to putting in place a humane, orderly immigration system that includes an established and efficient process for applying for asylum. That includes a range of programs for individuals to apply to stay in the United States. That requires congress acting, and it requires, also, health conditions improving as we are in the middle of a pandemic.

And we are continuing to expel people coming from a range of countries as we are continuing to apply Title 42, because there is a global pandemic that is ongoing. So I would think it's important to note that our policies, our border restrictions are being applied not just to Haitians, but to people who are coming irregularly to migrate to the country from anywhere. 90,000, more than 90,000 people were expelled in August.

That was even before what we've seen in the troubling photos under the bridge. We are applying immigration laws. We are applying what are border requirements, and we are applying Title 42, which, again, is a health application give when we're in a global pandemic.

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