The Biden administration is restricting media access to the Mexican border crisis, according to various news outlets and journalists, but Border Patrol sectors in the region are reporting alarming numbers of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. The unprecedented onslaught is overwhelming federal agents, and several Border Patrol sectors are publishing distressing figures as the situation escalates. With the mainstream media sidelined, reporters are using their respective news outlets and social media to protest the lack of transparency. Even CNN, one of the president's biggest allies, complains that the "Biden administration continues to deny journalists access to border facilities."
The policy raises questions about the administration's "commitments to increased transparency,"
the cable news network asserts.
NBC news gripes that the "Biden administration limits what Border Patrol can share with media about migrant surge at border."
In the piece, the national outlet writes that the administration is restricting the information Border Patrol agents and sector chiefs can share with the media as a surge of migrants
tests the agency's capacity at the southern border. The restrictions are described as a "gag order" and the information is attributed to four current and two former Customs and Border Protection officials. The sources say the Border Patrol has been ordered to deny all media requests for "ride-alongs" with agents in the southern border; local press officers are instructed to send all information queries — even from local media — to the press office in Washington D.C. for approval; and those responsible for cultivating data about the number of migrants in custody have been reminded not to share the information with anyone to prevent leaks.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist slams the administration
on social media, confirming that the Biden administration is granting the media "zero access" at the U.S.-Mexico border. The renowned photographer, John Moore, says he has photographed CBP under presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump but he had to go to the Mexican side to shoot his latest pictures with a telephoto lens. "I respectfully ask US Customs and Border Protection to stop blocking media access to their border operations,"
Moore writes in his social media thread. "Until now, US photojournalists haven't needed to stand in another country to photograph what's happening — in the United States."
Moore, who currently works for the Seattle-based media company Getty images, says he and other journalists have been escorted away from the crossing by Border Patrol agents. "There's no modern precedent for a full physical ban on media access to CBP border operations,"
he points out.
At least some information is trickling out via the different Border Patrol sectors, albeit in local press releases that are not receiving much media coverage. The McAllen Border Patrol Station (MCS) in Edinburg, Texas had a busy few days, revealing in a statement
that agents encountered three large groups of families and unaccompanied alien children with each group containing more than 100 people. The illegal immigrants were from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Belize. "On Saturday, MCS agents working near Havana, Texas, encountered a group of more than 145 illegal aliens,"
the frontline Homeland Security agency writes. "Hours later, another 108 illegal aliens were apprehended near La Joya, Texas. Yesterday morning, agents working near Hidalgo, Texas, arrested a third group consisting of 116 people. In total, the three groups consisted of nearly 300 family members and unaccompanied alien children, single adults rounded out the rest of the groups."
In the agency's Rio Grande Valley (RGV) sector, also in Texas, agents have encountered 25 groups of more than 100 each entering the U.S. illegally in the first few months of the year. "March has been a very active month for RGV, as illegal alien apprehensions thus far have surpassed February's total number,"
a regional statement
says, affirming that the global pandemic has not slowed the influx. "Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation,"
the Border Patrol writes. "The U.S. Border Patrol agents of the Rio Grande Valley Sector will continue to safeguard the nation and community against these criminal elements."