The escalating surge of migrants at the southern border shows no signs of abating, and after initially denying the severity of this emerging crisis, the Biden administration is now attempting to block the release of anything but carefully curated information about the true situation on the ground, according to new reports.
NBC News has revealed that Border Patrol agents and sector chiefs are now being restricted in terms of what they may share with the media about the migrant influx and its resulting strain on resources in what some officials characterize as an unofficial “gag order.”
According to four current and two former officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB), staffers have been instructed to refer media inquiries, including those from local reporters, to agency representatives in Washington and told to decline requests for “ride alongs”with agents.
The admonitions against communicating information beyond what had been approved by press officials in D.C. were reportedly not made in writing, but were transmitted to officials verbally, according to the Washington Examiner.
These limitations come amid requests from news organizations and advocates for photos of or access to border processing facilities reported to be significantly overtaxed and overcrowded.
Though the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a single image earlier this week of a health screening being given to a mother and child within a detention facility, there were no other images depicting general conditions or living accommodations, according to NBC News.
CBS News reported that one lawyer who traveled to interview migrant children detained at the border in Texas described the deteriorating conditions there by stating that children have reported going hungry, having only limited access to showers, and also that “some of the boys said said that conditions were so overcrowded that they had to take turns sleeping on the floor.”
With DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas now predicting that the current migrant surge is likely to shatter a 20-year record and place a continuing burden on already-strapped resources, Republicans in Congress are renewing earlier calls for hearings and accountability from the administration, as Fox News noted.
In a letter to Sen. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) last week, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri deemed the border situation “a full-blown emergency and demanded the administration “provide an explanation to Congress and to the American people.” In light of what now amounts to forced silence on those in the trenches, however, that appears increasingly less likely to occur.