Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday denied there’s a media “gag order” in place at the U.S. southern border.
During the broadcast of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mayorkas discussed media access to the administration’s operations at the border with host Chuck Todd, and said it was “unequivocally false” to say there is a “gag order” in place. (RELATED: MSNBC Host Blasts Biden’s Media Blackout At Border: ‘If It Had Been The Trump Administration We Would Be Rightly Outraged’)
Todd began by noting that Mayorkas visited the border on Saturday with a bipartisan group of senators. He explained that Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who was part of the group, claimed after the visit that the facilities holding migrant children were overcrowded. Todd then asked Mayorkas why Murphy can see the facilities, but not the American public or news media.
Mayorkas didn’t directly respond to Todd’s question, and instead discussed what actions the administration is taking at the border, such as not expelling unaccompanied children, dedicating FEMA resources to assist with capacity issues at border patrol stations, and moving children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He added they’re also “working on providing access” so the American public can “see what is going on,” but didn’t provide details as to how.
“What does that mean? I mean, right now we have no access to, or photos of, the conditions in the facilities, there have been no ride alongs with agents, all inquiries are routed through Washington, there have been strict controls on sharing data, local border patrol folks feel like they can’t even talk to our folks down there. Is there a gag order?” Todd asked.
“There is not. That is unequivocally false, Chuck. Let’s be clear here. We are in the midst of a pandemic. We are, because of the extraordinary leadership of the president, climbing out of it more rapidly than ever before. But we are still in the midst of the pandemic,” Mayorkas responded.
“There is central CDC controls in place, and border patrol agents are focused on operations, on securing the border, on addressing the needs of vulnerable children. We are not focused on ride alongs right now,” he concluded.
President Joe Biden’s administration has come under fire from various media organizations for the lack of access being allowed to journalists at the border. This comes as the crisis at the border has become increasingly worse over recent months, with the CDC reportedly allowing migrant facilities to operate at 100% capacity, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.