NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
EXCLUSIVE: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s claim that illegal immigrants aren’t just “walking across” the southern border has sparked anger and shock from Border Patrol agents – who witness hundreds of migrants flooding across the border every single day.
“How out of touch can this administration possibly be?” one agent told Fox News. “Well I guess this is a new level.”
Jean-Pierre was asked on Monday why migrants are allowed to illegally enter the U.S. without being vaccinated for COVID-19 but an unvaccinated foreign national traveling on a plane is not.
“Somebody unvaccinated comes over on a plane. You say that’s not OK. Somebody walks into Texas or Arizona unvaccinated, they’re allowed to stay? Why?” Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked at the White House press briefing.
“But that’s not how it works,” Jean-Pierre said.
“That’s what’s happening,” Doocy said. “I know that’s not what you guys want to happen. But that is what is happening.”
“But that’s not — it’s not like somebody walks over,” Jean-Pierre responded.
Jean-Pierre went on to outline what the administration had done in terms of the border, including more DHS funding and cooperation with other countries — contrasting it to what she said was the prior administration’s focus on building a wall.
“It is not that simple. It’s not just that people are walking across the border,” she said. “We have a plan in place.”
Border Patrol agents are on the frontlines dealing with migrants coming across the border in their droves. Migrants encountered by Border Patrol are generally processed and released into the U.S. often within hours of apprehensions. Meanwhile there are more than half a million illegal immigrants who have evaded Border Patrol this fiscal year alone.
Agents were stunned by the remarks.
“There’s only two reasons she said that and that is either she is extremely dumb or she is flat out lying and hopes America is so stupid we would believe her,” one agent told Fox News Digital. “18 USC 1001 says it is a Federal Crime to knowingly make false statements to the U.S. Government. Too bad the government is not held to the same standard as the citizenry and that is assuming [Jean-Pierre] is not dumb but just a liar.”
A number of agents Fox spoke with were unsure of whether the comments were borne out of what they saw as ignorance or were a deliberate falsehood.
“She is absolutely ignorant to the reality of all the documented footage or just continuing [Homeland Security Secretary] Mayorkas’ delusional lie!” another agent said. “This administration must believe that the American people are fools, like their mainstream media comrades!”
“Wow,” another said. “It amazes me how so many totally ignorant people are high in government.”
Others noted the White House’s general reluctance to visit the border itself – President Biden has not visited the border, and Vice President Kamala Harris’ last visit was summer 2021.
“Has [Jean-Pierre] EVER visited the actual border to see for herself what is happening? Nope,” an agent said.
The comments by agents come a day after National Border Patrol Council Brandon Judd accused the administration of deflecting on the issue, and said it shows the White House does not care about the border crisis.
“They don’t care that hundreds of thousands of people are dying because of drug overdoses, because of these illegal immigrants that are coming across the borders illegally, that the cartels then create the opportunities. They don’t care what is currently happening. They know that it’s not hurting them. So they’re going to continue to lie to the American public,” he said.
The controversy comes as the border came close to another 200,000 migrant encounters in July, the fifth month in a row where the numbers have either approached or beaten the 200,000 level.
There have so far been more than two million migrant encounters this fiscal year, exceeding the record-setting 1.7 million hit in fiscal year 2021. While some are returned via Title 42 public health restrictions — which the White House is seeking to abolish — most are currently being released into the U.S.
The Biden administration has come under fire for its “root cause” strategy of targeting what it believes are the drivers of migration, like poverty and violence in Central America. Republicans have instead blamed the administration for fueling the crisis with its stopping of Trump-era border policies like wall construction and the “Remain-in-Mexico” program, as well as lax interior enforcement.
The Biden administration has noted its moves to reduce asylum times and a recent anti-smuggling campaign. But it has repeatedly said that its approach is a long-term strategy and will not lead to results in the short-term — a claim which Jean-Pierre repeated on Monday.
“We have a plan in place. This is not like switching the lights on. Right?” she said. “This is going to take a process. We are fixing a broken system that was actually left by the last administration.”
Fox News’ Elizabeth Heckman contributed to this report.