White House holds briefing ahead of Biden’s immigration orders

The CW39 Houston

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — White House press secretary Jen Psaki held a press briefing with reporters at the White House Tuesday.

The news conference began around 1:30 p.m. EST. Watch the full briefing in the player above.

It comes just hours before President Joe Biden plans to issue executive orders on immigration reform, which will include a review of asylum processing at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as a task force to address the separation of families.

Biden plans to sign three executive orders on reunifying families, border security and legal immigration — bringing the total to nine executive actions on immigration during his first two weeks in office.

Psaki said Tuesday that the White House needs time to put in place a “moral” immigration process so people can be treated humanely. She added that it’s “not the time to come to the United States.”

Psaki also said there are estimates of between 600 to 700 children that are still separated from their parents and the task force will assess what the accurate number is and determine the best approach to reunite them with their family members.

The briefing also follows President Joe Biden’s first meeting with a group of Republican senators who proposed spending about one-third of the $1.9 trillion he’s seeking in coronavirus aid.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, said it was an “excellent” meeting and told reporters the discussion was productive. Though they did not come to an agreement on a package, she said they did agree to follow up discussions. Collins told reporters she is hopeful Congress will pass another COVID-19 relief package.

Psaki released a statement following the meeting, acknowledging that while there were areas of agreement, “the president also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address.”

She said, “He will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”

The House and Senate are on track to vote as soon as this week on a budget resolution, which would lay the groundwork for passing an aid package under rules requiring only a simple majority vote in the closely divided Senate. 

The goal is for passage by March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires. The meeting hosted by Biden amounts to the most public involvement for the president in the negotiations over the next round of virus relief. Democratic and Republican lawmakers are far apart in their proposals for assistance.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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