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White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday slammed as political “stunts,” two actions from Texas Governor Greg Abbott – the transportation of a group of Latin American immigrants to Washington and continued truck inspections that have gridlocked the U.S.-Mexico border for days.
Watch Psaki’s remarks in the player above.
Texas officials on Wednesday transported a group of Latin American migrants and asylum-seekers recently released from federal custody to Washington, D.C.
WATCH: More trucking needed to ease supply chains, says Biden
“It’s nice the state of Texas is helping them get to their final destination, as they await their outcome of their immigration proceedings and they’re all in immigration proceedings,” Psaki told reporters.
Abbott on Wednesday also defied mounting pressure to immediately end truck inspections that have gridlocked the U.S.-Mexico border for days, saying that despite miles-long backups and spoiled produce, he would not rescind his new order at all bridges until he gets more assurances of security.
The two-term Republican said he was only ending inspections at one international bridge after announcing what he described as an agreement for more enhanced security with Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel García, whose Mexican state is across the border from Laredo.
But that would not bring relief to idling truckers stacked up elsewhere along Texas’ 1,200-mile border, including in cities where backups have lasted for more than 12 hours and frustrated truckers have blocked bridges in protest. That includes the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which has been effectively closed since Monday by trucker protests.
Abbott said he hoped officials in the three other Mexican states that border Texas would follow Nuevo Leon and also promise more security.
The Texas Trucking Association, which has endorsed Abbott for reelection, said that the current situation “cannot be sustained” as the delays postponed deliveries and threatened to empty store shelves.
The Mexican governors of Coahuila and Tamaulipas, which both border Texas, also sent Abbott a letter calling the inspections overzealous and said they are “creating havoc and economic pain” on both sides of the border.
Mexico’s federal government has said Abbott’s order is causing “serious damage” to trade, and that cross-border traffic had plummeted to a third of normal levels.
Psaki called Abbott’s order “unnecessary,” adding “these actions are impacting people’s jobs and the livelihoods of hardworking families in Texas and across the country.”
The shutdowns and slowdowns have set off some of widest backlash to date of Abbott’s multibillion-dollar border operation, which the two-term governor has made the cornerstone of his administration. Texas has thousands of state troopers and National Guard members on the border and has converted prisons into jails for migrants arrested on state trespassing charges.
The disruptions at some of the world’s busiest international trade ports could pose economic and political threats to Abbott, who is seeking a third term in November. Democrat Beto O’Rourke, the former presidential candidate who is running against Abbott, said on Tuesday that the inspections were doing nothing to halt the flow of migrants and were worsening supply chain issues.
Psaki said the extension of a nationwide mask requirement for airplanes and public transit for 15 more days was designed to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant that is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was extending the order, which was set to expire on April 18, until May 3.
In response to a reporters question, Psaki denied that the Biden administration was considering adding Japan to the trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United State. “It is not a J-AUKUS plan,” she said.
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