Legacy news outlets and reporters have increasingly begun to question the White House’s transparency regarding the surge in illegal immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Biden administration has prohibited reporters from visiting facilities that are used to house illegal immigrants, saying it’s due to the CCP virus pandemic.
Last week, the Radio Television Digital News Association called on the Biden administration to allow media workers access to Border Patrol facilities.
“The lack of information and collaboration from the Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security has also created a vacuum of sorts that traditionally biased sources are filling with information that serves only their political interests. This dynamic is not conducive to efforts by journalists to communicate unbiased information to the public nor is it constructive to the heated dialogue of elected officials both locally and nationally,” Radio Television Digital News Association executive director Dan Shelley said in a letter to the White House.
“At a time when the southern border of the United States is undergoing a historic surge of migrants, it is more important than ever that journalists be allowed the necessary access to report accurately and independently on the Border Patrol’s response to the increased arrival of migrants and the wellbeing of those housed in Border Patrol facilities,” Shelley added.
In an article from left-leaning CNN, titled, “Reporters call out Biden administration for lack of transparency at the US-Mexico border,” it noted that when Department of Homeland (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to the border several days ago, “typically on such a trip, a cabinet secretary and lawmakers would be accompanied by reporters or a member of the White House press pool to feed notes back to newsrooms.”
“But on this trip, the Biden administration blocked that from happening,” the article stated.
A Getty photographer who won a 2019 award for a Honduran toddler crying along the border wrote on Twitter that he, too, was denied access and called on the administration to allow him to shoot photos on the U.S. side.
“I respectfully ask US Customs and Border Protection to stop blocking media access to their border operations,” Getty’s John Moore wrote on Twitter Friday. “I have photographed CBP under Bush, Obama and Trump but now—zero access is granted to media.” Photos that he captured recently were “taken from the Mexican side,” Moore said.
Moore, meanwhile, described the current situation as unusual.
“There’s no modern precedent for a full physical ban on media access to CBP border operations,” Moore added in another Twitter post. “To those who might say, cut them some slack—they are dealing with a situation, I’d say that showing the U.S. response to the current immigrant surge is exactly the media’s role.
Correspondent and author Jacob Soboroff wrote that the White House “is doing itself no favors by keeping us out of these facilities,” noting that the “Trump administration let us in” the facilities. “Now it is the Biden administration’s turn to open the doors so that we can fully tell the story of not just where they want to go but why they want to go to that place,” he said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when questioned during briefings about the lack of press access at Border Patrol facilities, said the administration will move to address the issue.
“The DHS oversees the Border Patrol facilities, and we want to work with them to ensure we can do respecting the privacy and obviously the health protocols required by COVID,” she said on March 18. On Monday, Psaki said the administration is “working to finalize details” about more media access and said, “I hope to have an update in the coming days.”
“We are working through with the Department of Health and Human Services, and also the Department of Homeland Security to ensure privacy and to ensure that we are following COVID protocols,” the secretary told reporters at the White House. “We remain committed to transparency, and of course as I noted last week, we certainly want to make sure the media has access to these sites.”