President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday shifted its portrayal of ongoing discussions with Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, acknowledging no formal agreements were reached on those countries building up their forces at their respective borders.
There was no “formal agreement,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.
“We never described it as a formal declaration or a formal agreement, but additional steps that they were taking to increase personnel at the border. And those are steps you can confirm with those countries that they have taken,” she added.
Earlier in the week, Psaki said it was fair to say that agreements with the three countries were struck recently, in the past few weeks.
“There have been a series of bilateral discussions between our leadership and the regional governments of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. Through those discussions, there was a commitment, as you mentioned, to increase border security,” she told a reporter at the White House.
Tyler Moran, special assistant to the president for immigration for the Domestic Policy Council, went on MSNBC that same day and said the administration “secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border,” adding, “Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala have all agreed to do this.”
But Guatemala told citizens that there was “no document signed” with the United States, saying it had already sent the 1,500 personnel Psaki mentioned to its border in January. Mexican officials said in late March they were increasing the troop level at its borders slightly while Honduran officials stated there “was no commitment” to put more soldiers in place to disrupt migration.
U.S. State Department officials seemed to contradict others in Biden administration, including during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
“No, there were no agreements concluded with governments regarding border security,” Ricardo Zuniga, the special envoy for the northern triangle, told Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas).
“We do agree that it is very important to continue to work together, to collaborate, to manage migration, in a way that enhances the security of every country and allows governments to enforce their borders, just as the United States does,” he added.
A State Department spokeswoman also told The Washington Free Beacon that “no agreements have been established.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a tweet that the White House “needs to come clean about this.”
“This is a series of bold-faced lies,” Issa added to the Free Beacon. “The [Biden administration] has deliberately said something that wasn’t true affecting foreign policy. … He’s taking credit for what is the unilateral efforts of these countries to deal with the crisis that he’s created for them.”