Washington (AP) – US President Joe Biden will answer questions from journalists tonight at the first formal press conference of his tenure.
According to the White House, 30 reporters will be admitted, as well as some photographers and cameramen. A number of topics are likely to be addressed, including the corona pandemic. Journalists are likely to push for answers given the increasing number of migrants arriving at the southern border with Mexico.
In recent weeks, the pressure on the Biden government in this regard had increased significantly. The day before the press conference, Biden took some wind out of the reporters’ sails: he placed control of migration in the hands of Vice President Kamala Harris – making the issue a top priority.
One difficulty at the moment is the reception of the many unaccompanied minor migrants: the depleted capacities had recently meant that the transfer of children from the border police facilities to those of the Ministry of Health did not always take place within the statutory time limit of 72 hours.
Because of the bottlenecks, the Pentagon has now, according to spokesman John Kirby, approved a request from the Department of Health to temporarily house unaccompanied children and adolescents in an empty dormitory at a military base in San Antonio, Texas. Suitable temporary housing will also be built on a plot of land in Fort Bliss near El Paso.
According to the latest official figures from Wednesday, about 5,000 children and young people were in border security facilities and more than 11,500 were under the care of the Ministry of Health.
So far, the new government has not talked about a crisis on the southern border, but rather a challenge. There is no doubt that it is a “challenging situation” on the southern border, Harris also said on Wednesday. It is now to work with Mexico and countries in the Northern Triangle – Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – so that they accept rejected migrants and improve control over their borders.
People are leaving the countries for a variety of reasons, and the problem is addressing the causes that drive people to leave, Harris said. Biden said, “I think I gave you a tough job.” However, no one is better suited for it, he added, referring to Harris’ experience as an attorney general in the largest US state, California.
For Harris, the new accountability is an opportunity to stand out as a vice president amid heated debate on a controversial issue. Biden held a similar position as Vice President under Barack Obama.
If Biden appears before the media on Thursday, it could also discuss why he took so much time with his first press conference, something the US media has been talking about over and over again lately. The Democrat has answered questions from individual journalists on the brink of the limelight many times since the beginning of his tenure, but has not yet held a full press conference where reporters can ask him detailed questions. But he has revived the tradition of a daily media briefing at the White House, where his spokeswoman Jen Psaki is available for questions from reporters.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, took a different approach. Trump’s spokesman rarely held press conferences for long, but Trump often presented himself to journalists in great detail. At the same time, the Republican regularly accused the media criticizing him and his politics of spreading “fake news” and insulting them as “enemies of the people”.