The Biden administration is trying to hide the border crisis, issuing an unofficial gag order on Border Patrol agents and withholding information.
On Wednesday, NBC News reported the Biden administration has imposed what amounts to a media blackout at the southwest border amid a worsening crisis.
Border Patrol agents, including sector chiefs and press officers, are under an unofficial gag order not to answer questions from the press, according to four current and two former Customs and Border Protection officials who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity.
Federal officials along the border, they say, have been verbally instructed—there is no official memo, no paper-trail—to deny all press requests for ride-alongs and refer all media inquiries, even from local reporters, to Washington. Officials responsible for gathering data about the number of illegal immigrants in federal custody, they say, have been told not to share that information with anyone to prevent possible leaks.
The blackout comes as the Biden administration continues to deny there’s a crisis at the border, even as the number of migrant children detained by CBP soars, overwhelming federal facilities ill-equipped to house and care for minors. As of Sunday, CBP had more than 4,200 minors in custody along the border, a record.
The Department of Homeland Security has not conducted any media tours of several hastily opened shelters for minors, included one in Donna, Texas, that was 729 percent over capacity earlier this month. Lawyers who have been inside these facilities and interviewed migrant children housed there report there is not enough food, bed space, or showers. Many of these minors are being held for much longer than allowed under federal law.
This stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration, which gave press access to these facilities during its controversial family separation policy in June 2018. Likewise, CBP routinely approved press requests for ride-alongs with Border Patrol agents during the Trump administration. But there has not been “a single one since January 20,” when Biden was inaugurated, one federal official told NBC News.