Border media blackout blows up Biden bid for 'transparency'

Migrants scale a border fence near San Diego on Nov. 13, 2018
(Lizbeth Diaz via Twitter)

During an early debate among Democratic presidential candidates, Joe Biden said that if elected, there should be a “surge at the border.”

“All those people seeking asylum, they deserve to be heard,” he said. “If you want to flee and you are fleeing oppression, you should come.”

Biden clearly has followed through with that messaging, but the consequent crisis at the border has exposed his failure to follow through on another promise, “transparency.”

John Daniel Davidson at the Federalist noted the Biden administration has in place an “unofficial gag order,” preventing Border Patrol agents and sector chiefs from speaking to the media.

NBC News reported Border Patrol staff have been told to refer all media requests, even from local outlets, to Customs and Border Protection staffers in Washington. And officials are to deny all “ride-along” requests.

Danielson pointed out it’s taking place as migrants are “overwhelming federal facilities ill-equipped to house and care for minors.” The Department of Homeland Security has withheld media tours, and lawyers who have been inside overcrowded detention facilities say they lack food, bed space and showers.

The Trump administration, Danielson noted, gave media access routinely to the facilities.

“The media blackout at the border also stands in stark contrast to the Biden administration’s empty rhetoric about transparency. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who continues to deny there is a crisis, earlier this month pledged to be transparent with the media on immigration issues but has since denied media access to migrant processing centers, including embedded reporters with congressional delegations that visited the border this week,” he wrote.

“Earlier this week, Mayorkas said the United States is on pace to see the largest number of illegal border crossings in 20 years. In February, Border Patrol arrested nearly 97,000 people along the southwest border, and will likely arrest more than 100,000 in March.

“Since reporters aren’t allowed to ask Border Patrol or CBP press officers any questions, one of the only places reporters can get information from federal officials is in White House press briefings, where anyone who does ask a question is denigrated by Press Secretary Jen Psaki.”

Danielson noted Psaki responded with a personal attack to a question from a Fox News correspondence about capping the number of unaccompanied minors: “Should we send some kids who are 10 back at a certain point? Is that what you’re asking me?”

Davidson found out the blackout order was verbal, with “no paper trail.” Multiple anonymous sources said they’ve been told to keep information secret.

NBC News said the Biden administration was in a tough spot, wanting “to show voters it has a more humane approach, while on the other hand it doesn’t want to encourage more undocumented migrants to cross the border.”

Speaking at the White House last week, Ambassador Roberta Jacobson, Biden’s coordinator for the southern border, told reporters: “It is difficult at times to convey both hope in the future and the danger that is now. And that is what we’re trying to do. And I — I will certainly agree that we are trying to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

The Bryan Times noted something was missing from media coverage of the border crisis: photos.

“In the world of media and politics, what stirs popular outrage in a story like this is pictures. It’s one thing for Americans to read descriptions of young people in jail cells. It’s another thing for Americans to see photos and videos of young people in jail cells. Remember the uproar over the Trump administration’s so-called ‘kids in cages’ policy? It was stoked by media organizations showing pictures of what was happening,” the report said.

The “cages” actually were implemented under the Obama administration.

“The Biden White House appears to be determined not to let Americans see what is going on,” the paper said. “The administration has not given the press access to the detention facilities. Nor has it given access to the nonprofit lawyers mentioned above, even though the administration is legally required to do so. On the migrant issue, there is a Biden Blackout.”

Davidson said that by “every measure, there is a crisis underway at the border — a crisis largely of Biden’s own making, which is why he is trying to suppress information about it.”

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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