RIO GRANDE VALLEY — Journalists were not permitted to photograph or audio or video record Customs and Border Protection officials’ interactions with illegal migrants in Rincon Village near McAllen, Texas last week.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials would not allow the Daily Caller News Foundation or other members of the media participating in ride-alongs March 24 with the Hidalgo County Constable’s office to document their encounters with illegal migrants shortly after they were smuggled across the Rio Grande River and onto federal land.
CBP officials would not say why journalists weren’t allowed to document their interactions and local officials on the scene could not offer an explanation. The Biden administration reportedly restricted CBP officials from sharing information with or talking to members of the media, NBC News reported.
CBP is not allowed to offer media ride-alongs or respond to media requests without approval from the national office, according to NBC News. Officials described the restrictions which were reportedly given verbally as an unofficial “gag order.”
“President Biden stated that in a democracy, the public deserves as much transparency as possible. The so-called ‘gag order’ on Border Patrol Agents does the antithesis of that,” Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesman Matthew Tragesser told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The administration must take responsibility for its actions and not erode public trust.”
Local officials said this was the first time CBP agents have shown up in the area while there is an active media presence. CBP received but was unable to comment on the interaction, a CBP official told the DCNF.
Daily Caller reporters attempted to access the temporary CBP processing facility in Donna, Texas, on Thursday, though a security guard denied them access at the gate.
The number of migrants crossing the southern border are approaching recorded high numbers and officials are on track to see more encounters than they have in the last 20 years, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said March 16, Reuters reported. Officials encountered an increasing number of migrants from Central America and Mexico starting in April and natural disasters combined with poor economic conditions have contributed to a continued increase in the number of people arriving at the southern border.
CBP encountered over 100,000 illegal immigrants in February including more than 9,000 unaccompanied migrant minors, according to the agency. The Biden administration lifted Title 42 pubic health restrictions on entry to the U.S. for unaccompanied migrant minors, though has continued expelling most single migrant adults and some families to Mexico.
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