Crisis at the border? What crisis?
That's the communications strategy of the Biden administration in somehow denying the existence an out-of-control surge at the border it is responsible for creating. Even President BidenJoe BidenManchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report Abrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE's Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasJohns Hopkins to launch degree program in cybersecurity and policy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - New front in mandate wars; debt bill heads to Biden DHS to end workplace raids, shift focus to employers over undocumented workers MORE, engaged in swampy double-speak when taking questions from reporters last week.
"The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are working around the clock seven days a week to ensure that we do not have a crisis at the border — that we manage the challenge, as acute as the challenge is," Mayorkas said on Mar. 1.
It's a challenge, you see. Not a crisis. Which totally explains why the administration was forced to open the very migrant facilities that candidate Biden called "horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages" and candidate Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisAbrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Replace Kamala Harris with William Shatner to get kids excited about space exploration Republicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' MORE described as "babies in cages” that constituted “a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government.”
But don't worry, because White House Press Secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiPaid family leave is 'not a vacation,' Buttigieg says Biden struggles to rein in Saudi Arabia amid human rights concerns The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government MORE recently explained that the same migrant facilities that housed "babies in cages" are no longer that under the current administration.
When challenged about the double standard by Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy on February 24, Psaki bizarrely said, "I’m sure you’re not suggesting that we have children right next to each other in ways that are not COVID safe. Are you?”
“This is not kids being kept in cages,” she later insisted while adding that the re-opening was only temporary. “This is a facility that was opened that’s going to follow the same standards as other HHS facilities. It is not a replication. Certainly not."
Except it is. Literally.
As for keeping the facilities COVID-19 safe, Axios recently reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "is allowing shelters handling child migrants to expand to 100 percent capacity, abandoning a requirement to stay near 50% as a COVID precaution."
Whoops. Can someone circle back to Psaki on this?
SCOOP: The CDC is allowing shelters handling child migrants to expand to 100% capacity, abandoning a requirement to stay near 50% as a COVID precaution. https://t.co/sRzKl6pUdq— Axios (@axios) March 5, 2021
In a related story, 108 migrants recently tested positive for COVID-19 at the border town of Brownsville. The 108 positives represent 6.3 percent of the number of total migrants who have been rapid-tested.
All were released with only an advisory to quarantine. That's nice.
"Our country is currently unprepared to handle a surge in migrants in the middle of the pandemic," Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said in a statement on Mar. 4. "Migrants are illegally crossing, potentially exposing border communities to the coronavirus and putting us at risk."
Biden recently criticized Texas and Mississippi officials for exhibiting Neanderthal thinking for lifting a state mask mandate. Okay, so how exactly would he describe himself for creating super-spreader events in releasing thousands of migrants into the general population, with some literally carrying the highly contagious and potentially deadly COVID-19 that has already killed nearly 530,000 people in America?
Overall, about 80,000 people tried to illegally cross the U.S. border in January 2021, compared to January 2020. Also in a related story, when 68,000 people were brought into U.S. custody in 2014, then-President Obama called it "an actual humanitarian crisis."
But this is 2021, so instead of calling what's happening a crisis or humanitarian crisis, President Biden himself says there is no crisis at the border, while his DHS chief calls it "a challenge."
In a brief passing exchange with the media, Joe Biden is asked if there’s a border crisis: “No, we’ll be able to handle it.” pic.twitter.com/NqrWgs3Cx8— TV News HQ (@TVNewsHQ) March 3, 2021
According to border officials, 117,000 children are anticipated to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border minus a parent or even a guardian this year. Officials also say the number of minors arriving per day is quadruple the number from October.
So, what's the Biden administration's official plea to help slow down this crisis-that-isn't-a-crisis?
"We are not saying, 'Don't come,'" DHS head Mayorkas said last week. "We are saying, 'Don't come now.'"
Strong words. That should do the trick.
Add it all up, and this is a train wreck for the Biden administration.
Democrats led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSinema's no Manchin, no McCain and no maverick Ocasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention MORE (D-N.Y.) hate that kids are back in cages.
Republicans have a huge issue to run on in 2022, when only five seats are needed for the GOP to essentially retire Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSen. Ron Johnson hoping for Democratic 'gridlock' on reconciliation package Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda Biden struggles to rein in Saudi Arabia amid human rights concerns MORE (D-Calif.) as House speaker.
With the warm weather months coming and such weak sauce from the Biden administration on messaging, expect the surge to skyrocket.
It's a mess with no easy fix, particularly with a president and administration that turns to an alternative reality to deny its existence.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.