Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said on March 23 that she didn’t see anything during her time on March 21 in Arizona to justify barring journalists from covering the growing crisis at the U.S. border area with Mexico.
“I didn’t see anything that would justify keeping media out. Media embed in war zones, they do that, and they do it well,” Blackburn told reporters during a telephone news conference following her visit to Cochise County, which is on the Arizona–Mexico border, and Pinal County, just north of the border area.
“So I can’t imagine why there would be this push to keep media out other than they just don’t want people reporting on what is going on.”
A flood of illegal immigrants has surged across the U.S. border with Mexico since President Joe Biden signed multiple executive orders reversing his predecessor’s immigration policies, including immediately stopping work on the border wall President Donald Trump spent several years improving, which he extended hundreds of miles into previously open areas.
According to the Hill, more than 15,000 unaccompanied minors are said to have been processed thus far by U.S. border immigration officials, with thousands more children and adults, most not tested for the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, crossing the border and being released into the U.S. interior.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on CNN on March 21 that reporters won’t be allowed until the federal government can guarantee their safety from the virus.
“We are in the midst of a pandemic, we are dealing with crowded Border Patrol facilities, we are focused on our operations and the needs of the children, and at the same time, we are working to provide access to those border patrol facilities when we can do so in a safe manner,” Mayorkas said on “State of the Union.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter on March 22 that “denying the press the ability to observe, film, and report on the conditions at the border is not openness or transparency—it is hiding the truth from the American people.”
Cruz demanded that Biden reverse the previous decision and allow journalists to accompany the Texas senator and 14 Senate colleagues on an oversight border visit on March 26.
Mayorkas also said on March 21 that the present border crisis was caused by Trump dismantling the immigration system he inherited from his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
“We are rebuilding the orderly systems that the Trump administration tore down to avoid the need for these children to actually take the perilous journey,” Mayorkas said.
But Blackburn said she talked with private citizens and local law enforcement authorities in Arizona, all of whom pointed to policy changes implemented by the Biden administration as the cause of the growing crisis.
“Everyone says the uptick has been significant since Joe Biden won in November. They all know that this is a crisis of Biden’s making, it is the Biden open-border policy, it is the Biden immigration policy,” she said.
Blackburn called for an immediate return to the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced immigrants seeking to enter the United States to remain in Mexico until allowed to cross the border for the adjudication of their cases.
She also said the Biden administration should cease its resumption of the catch-and-release policy of the Obama era in which illegals stopped at the border would be given a court date to appear for processing, then be released into the United States. Few of them actually returned for their court dates and have simply remained in the country illegally.
Blackburn also emphasized the importance of resuming construction of the Trump wall, both to complete it as a barrier to illegal crossings and to deny Mexican drug cartels the ability to use the construction access roads built by the United States as drug-smuggling resources.
“I think one of the things many people don’t realize is the sophistication of the cartels. These are big international businesses, and in the Arizona border, that border South into Mexico is controlled by El Chapo’s cartel,” Blackburn said.
The drug cartels use extremely sophisticated surveillance resources to track where U.S. law enforcement units are located so they can be avoided by drug smugglers and human traffickers.
“Fifty percent of all the street drugs that come into the U.S. come in through Arizona,” Blackburn said. “So this is where the cartels have set up their surveillance systems, and with the border wall construction being pulled to a halt, these roads, having already been cut into the mountains, the cartels are using them to more quickly move up people who are signed on with their cartel.”
In addition to the drugs, Blackburn said the cartels are rapidly expanding rent-a-child programs that utilize children to pose with unrelated adults as family units.
Blackburn has introduced legislation that requires DNA testing to confirm familial claims before the individual adults and children are allowed into the country.
Congressional reporter Mark Tapscott may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org