White House National Security Council adviser Roberta Jacobson mistakenly told migrants that the Southern border was open, during the White House press briefing on Wednesday.
During the briefing, Jacobson switched from English to Spanish and said, “la frontera no esta cerrada” (the border IS NOT closed). After a White House aide handed her a slip of paper later in the briefing, Jacobson corrected her statement to say, “la frontera esta cerrada” (the border IS closed).
Biden's border czar, Roberta Jacobson, fixed her comment, made in Spanish, that the border is not closed — after an aide handed her a note as she spoke during White House press briefing. https://t.co/YWY20NkSpR
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) March 10, 2021
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the mistake during the White House press briefing, as a reporter noted Jacobson’s comment could be picked up by Spanish-speaking migrants.
“Well, given she also said that the border is closed, we’re hopeful that that is what will be picked up. And that has clearly and consistently been our message,” Psaki said.
Jacobson acknowledged during the briefing the administration was struggling with the issue of “mixed messages” by trying to signal hope to potential migrants for a path into the country while also reminding them of the dangers of the journey.
“I will certainly agree we are trying to walk and chew gum at the same time,” she said.
On Tuesday, Psaki told reporters “we are not trying to close our borders” and said the priority was to “create an effective, moral, humane system.”
Jacobson blamed the surge of migrants under President Joe Biden on the “hope” that the new administration offered compared to that of former President Donald Trump.
“We’ve seen surges before,” she said. “Surges tend to respond to hope and there was a significant hope for a more humane policy after four years of pent-up demand.”
She also accused smugglers of spreading “disinformation” about Biden’s new border policies.
Jacobson, an adviser to the president on Central America issues, steered away from immediate ways to address the crisis at the border and spoke about the importance of working with the governments of Central America and the private sector to improve the living conditions in countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
Jacobson blamed the “increased pace of natural disasters because of climate change,” citing two hurricanes from last year that hurt economic growth.
“The president has committed to seeking $4 billion over four years to address the root causes of migration,” she said. “Including corruption, violence and economic devastation exacerbated by climate change.”