White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there are “different definitions” of what it means to shut down the border when pressed if President Biden’s recent immigration rhetoric is any different from comments then-President Trump made in 2018 which critics cited as “racist.”
“Back in the winter of 2018 and the spring of 2019, President Trump vowed to shut down the border with Mexico using almost the identical language that the president used on Friday. Many, many, if not most, if not practically all Democrats called that xenophobic and even racist. Why shouldn’t people make the same conclusion about this president’s threat to shut down the entire border with Mexico?” a reporter asked the press secretary on Monday.
“We believe the new enforcement tools that currently don’t exist that we believe will be part of this bipartisan agreement will be fair. We believe … it’ll be tough, but it will be fair,” Jean-Pierre responded.
She was then pressed that Biden did not say last week that the administration would use “enhanced enforcement to improve the processing of people at the border” and was instead much stronger by saying he would shut the border down.
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“Why isn’t that the same thing that Trump did?” the reporter questioned after a short back-and-forth with Jean-Pierre.
“There are different definitions, right, of what that looks like, of what actually shutting down the border looks like, right? So, we’re going to let them work through it. We don’t know what that looks like exactly. What we are asking for, what the president wants to see, is that we deal with the challenges at the border, that we have an opportunity to deal with what’s going on, the security, and make sure that we have the funding and the resources to deal with what we’re seeing at the border,” she responded.
“There are different definitions to what that looks like.”
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Biden on Friday vowed to “shut down the border” if Congress passes a bipartisan immigration deal he said would give him the “emergency authority” to stop the rush of migrants that have been flooding the border during his administration.
“For too long, we all know the border’s been broken,” he said. “It’s long past time to fix it.”
“What’s been negotiated would — if passed into law — be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country,” Biden said. “It would give me, as president, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”
BIDEN PROMISES TO ‘SHUT DOWN’ BORDER IF CONGRESS APPROVES BILL GOP CLAIMS WOULD ‘INCENTIVIZE ILLEGAL ALIENS’
Trump was slammed by Democrats and other critics as a “racist” in November 2018 and again in March 2019 for threatening to shut down the border if Mexico didn’t stop people from illegally crossing into the U.S.
“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with. Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!” Trump said amid a series of tweets in 2018.
“If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States through our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week,” Trump again tweeted in 2019.
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Critics attacked such a plan as racist, including the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2019, which said the plan was “illegal” and accused Trump of “using scare tactics to paint lawful immigration as a security threat.”