White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki brushed off a question at Friday’s press briefing about the new vaccine mandate for employers with more than 100 workers – and why it should not also apply to migrants at the southern border.
She got asked about the juxtaposed policies by Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy, who regularly peppers Biden with questions about the border.
The reporter at first asked her ‘why is it it that you’re trying to require anybody with a job, or anybody who has a job, or anybody who goes to school, to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but you’re not requiring that of migrants who continue to walk across the southern border.’
Psaki responded that the objective is ‘to get as many people vaccinated across the country as humanly possible,’ adding that when ‘more people are vaccinated, whether they are migrants or whether they are workers, protects more people in the United States.’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the goal was ‘to get as many people vaccinated across the country as humanly possible,’ but breezed by a question about why businesses face a new mandate without a policy for vaccinating migrants at the southern border
Doocy then pressed Psaki, saying: ‘Vaccines are required for people at a business with more than 100 people. It is not a requirment for migrants at the border. Why?’
‘That’s correct,’ she responded, quickly brushing off the question and moving on.
The Homeland Security Department said in a report early last month that it was monitoring the situation at the border but did not make a final decision on whether to provide Johnson & Johnson shots to migrants who come into US custody.
According to a report last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been stepping up vaccinations, but thousands of immigrants have refused.
DHS is not conducting enforcement activities near vaccination sites in an effort to boost vaccines. Some Republicans, including Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, have argued against vaccinating immigrants without legal status.
Officials want to guard against outbreaks at US facilities, and avoid further spread within the community.
Asylum-seeking migrants’ families wait in line while the U.S. National Guard officer unlock the gate and escort out of a private property after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Roma, Texas, U.S., August 26, 2021
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant
About 75% of eligible adults in the U.S. have gotten at least one jab of the vaccine
Psaki touched on the immigration issue at a briefing where she defended Biden’s new vaccine mandates a day after he announced they would apply to all federal workers and contractors, as well as the large businesses, who could face fines of nearly $14,000 for failing to comply.
The private sector workers could submit to weekly testing if they do not provide proof of vaccination, although the vaccine mandate would apply to federal workers and contractors.
A host of Republican governors have already threatened to sue.
‘This is a way to implement OSHA regulations that, by the way, are part of what is the fedearl law for more than 15 years,’ she said. ‘That’s why we have the ability to do this.’
She was referring to Labor law establishing a ‘Temporary Standard Code’ for OSHA, when it finds ‘substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards.’
Republican governors aren’t satisfy, and are threatening to sue. Biden himself said in December during the transition when asked about vaccines: ‘I don’t think it should be mandatory, I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory, but I would do everything in my power…as president of the United States to convince people to do the right thing.’
On Friday, he appeared to welcome a legal battle.
‘Have at it,’ he said, when asked about the potential suits while touring a DC school.
‘I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,’ he said.
The Republican National Committee threatened to sue to roll back Biden’s new vaccine orders within hours after he issued them Thursday, calling the effort ‘unconstitutional.’
‘Many small businesses and workers do not have the money or legal resources to fight Biden’s unconstitutional actions and authoritarian decrees,’ RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. A number of GOP governors have also threatened to sue.