Doocy vs KJP on people crossing the border with COVID

Source: Hot Air

Peter Doocy was at it again today during the White House press conference. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saved his question for last and it led to a long back and forth.

“How come migrants are allowed to come into this country unvaccinated but world-class tennis players are not?” Doocy asked. He was referring to Novak Djokovic a top player who won Wimbledon last month (for the 7th time) and who has previously won the US Open three times. Last week Djokovic dropped out of the Open because he was not allowed to enter the country without being vaccinated.

Even New York magazine, while criticizing his decision not to get vaccinated, argued that the current vaccination policy makes no sense.

When the U.S. announced the rule last fall — at a time when it seemed vaccination status and the potential to transmit the virus were at least somewhat closely linked — it was reasonable. But in a world of ultracontagious Omicron variants, when even pandemic-cautious cities and states have put a stop to almost every mitigation measure, the idea that the country is meaningfully preventing COVID spread with travel restrictions (that apply only to international flights!) is laughable. Pre-travel testing would be a considerably better method of preventing spread than anything involving vaccination. The list of good reasons to nix this foolish policy goes on. Even in January, there wasn’t a very solid public-health justification to keep Djokovic from playing in the Australian Open. But context mattered: Australians had endured a series of strict lockdowns lasting the better part of a year and were understandably upset about a celebrity athlete boldly flouting the rules on the heels of their suffering. Obviously, that kind of dynamic does not exist in the U.S. right now.

Getting back to KJP’s answer, she suggested Doocy ask the CDC since it was their policy. “This is something that is up to them,” she said. As far as people coming across the border, she said ther were “two different things.”

“How is it two different things? Somebody unvaccinated comes over on a plane, you say that’s not okay. Somebody walks into Texas or Arizona unvaccinated, they’re allowed to stay? Why?” Doocy asked. And that’s when KJP’s answer got a little awkward.

“It’s not like somebody walks over,” Jean-Pierre replied.

“That’s exactly what’s happening,” Doocy said. Here’s the clip.

As you can see, KJP used Doocy’s statement to launch a filibuster answer about what the Biden administration had done on the border. She wound up by saying again that people aren’t just walking across the border. Eventually, KJP landed on another tack to answering this question. She pointed to Title 42 which is also a CDC guideline, one that has resulted in the removal of hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Doocy pointed out that “You guys got rid of it,” and Jean-Pierre noted that it was still in place. That’s true but what she didn’t admit is that the Biden administration did try to end Title 42 removals this summer but that effort was blocked by a judge.

The Biden administration sought to end Title 42 in May 2022, pointing to the improving pandemic environment and drop in coronavirus infections, but a coalition of Republican-controlled states convinced a federal court to block the policy’s termination on administrative grounds.

The court ruling has kept Title 42 in place indefinitely, preventing some migrants from requesting asylum along the U.S. southern border.

So it’s true Title 42 is still in operation though that’s despite the administration’s best efforts. In any case, the percentage of people being removed under Title 42 is much lower than it used to be.

Between March 2020 and January 2021, when the Trump administration enforced Title 42, U.S. border officials recorded 552,919 migrant encounters, 83% of which resulted in expulsions. During the Biden administration, the U.S. has reported more than 3 million migrant arrests, over half of which turned into Title 42 expulsions, according to government data as of the end of July 2022.

So migrants have a 50-50 chance of being removed under Title 42 during the Biden administration. And that doesn’t count the many thousands of migrants every week who are never stopped at the border in the first place. Obviously 100% of these “gotaways” are by definition walking across the border regardless of their COVID status.

Here’s the second half of today’s exchange.

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Update: Meant to add this. Fox’s Bill Melugin who has been covering groups of hundreds of migrants crossing the border daily says Doocy is right about what’s happening.