President Joe Biden planned to continue his Help is Here tour in Georgia Friday to promote his relief effort. However, the original plans were postponed after eight people were killed in the Atlanta area on Tuesday evening, most of whom were women of Asian descent.
The Georgia Senate runoff election in January gave the Democrats control of the Senate and allowed Biden to sign his US $ 1.9 trillion bailout plan. It would be his second stop on the tour to highlight the benefits of the bill after a brief visit to Pennsylvania, another swing state, on Tuesday.
But the White House announced Thursday that President and Vice President Kamala Harris will postpone an “evening political event” in Atlanta on Friday so the two can meet with Asian American leaders “to review the ongoing attacks and threats against the Community to discuss “. Biden also issued a proclamation honoring the victims and ordering half-staff flags on all public buildings and land by Sunday.
“The President will also offer his support to the AAPI community in Georgia and across the country and speak about his commitment to combating xenophobia, intolerance and hatred,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon during her daily press conference .
The American flag on the White House will be lowered to half the staff in honor of those killed in a series of attacks in the Atlanta area spas on March 18, 2021.
Biden addressed the shooting on Wednesday, describing the surge in hate crimes against Asia as “very problematic” but said he did not want to discuss the possible motivation for the spa shootings during the ongoing investigation.
The president has spoken out loudly on behalf of the Asia-American and Pacific islander communities and issued a presidential memorandum on Jan. 26 instructing state and local authorities and AAPI communities to help state and local authorities and AAPI communities help prevent hate crimes and expand data collection and the public Reporting supported. Psaki said, “The DOJ’s reach and engagement is well underway.”
Biden also directly condemned the “vicious hate crimes” during a prime-time address on March 11, saying the community had been “attacked, molested, accused and scapegoated”.
“Right now, so many of you, our fellow Americans, are at the forefront of this pandemic trying to save lives and yet you are forced to live in fear for your life and just walk the streets in America,” said Biden. “It’s wrong, it’s un-American and it has to stop.”
Discrimination and anti-Asian hate crime increased over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics, including the White House, said former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the terms he used to describe the virus contributed to the surge.
“I think there is no question that some of the harmful rhetoric we saw during the previous administration was blamed – you know, calling it COVID, you know, ‘the Wuhan virus’ or other things that are too inaccurate Perceptions from the Asian-American community have led to it being unfair … has increased the threat against Asian Americans, and we are seeing that across the country, “Psaki said earlier.
President Joe Biden speaks with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on March 16, 2021.
Although the Georgia murders changed his original plans for Friday, Biden’s tour was already overshadowed by the record spate of unaccompanied minors who crossed the US-Mexico border.
On Thursday, Psaki accidentally called the situation at the border a “crisis” after carefully refusing to do so for weeks. She later tried to suggest that she used the word “challenges” but was mistaken and clearly rebranded it.
Despite continuing his “Help is Here” tour in Ohio on Tuesday, Biden said this week he had no plans to visit the border “at the moment” and said in an exclusive interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News on Tuesday Biden migrants and unaccompanied minors: “Don’t come over.”
“Don’t leave your town or town,” he said as the number of children in border detention rose to approximately 4,500 this week, according to officials. Many spent days in overcrowded cells awaiting delivery to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Another 9,562 migrant children were in HHS detention on Wednesday, according to government officials, and it currently takes an average of 34 days to reunite with family or a sponsor.
U.S. border guards are holding undocumented immigrants next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence after the women crossed the Rio Grande to El Paso on March 17, 2021 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
The situation has gotten so bad that HHS opened a transition facility for unaccompanied minors at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and in Midland, Texas. Officials say this would allow them to release 2,000 children from US customs and border protection custody.
When asked by Stephanopoulos whether it would be a mistake not to anticipate that surge after deciding to overturn some of Trump’s immigration policies, Biden pointed to a surge in the past two years but admitted it was “worse “could be as this.
Psaki was also asked by ABC News’ Karen Travers on Wednesday why Biden has no plans to visit the border, but she would only say that he is “focusing on measures” to expedite border processing and open more facilities would.
Pressed by Travers on why he wouldn’t want to peek inside the facilities himself, Psaki declined, saying he was being updated “several times a week” and had seen pictures of the conditions.
“He speaks to many officers and has also received a briefing with photos, with and directly from his team who have visited the border and visited a number of facilities.”
ABC News has asked Border Patrol, HHS and the White House for access to the facilities more than a dozen times, but has denied requests citing the COVID-19 pandemic.