The Biden administration is reportedly directing what border officials can and cannot say to media in regard to the current border crisis. According to NBC News, four current and two former Customs and Border Protection officials confirmed that Biden issued what they and others see as a “gag order.” Biden is also prohibiting journalists or media members from touring the border facilities which multiple reports have claimed are over capacity.
NBC News reports:
Border Patrol officials have been told to deny all media requests for “ride-alongs” with agents along the southern land border; local press officers are instructed to send all information queries, even from local media, to the press office in Washington for approval; and those responsible for cultivating data about the number of migrants in custody have been reminded not to share the information with anyone to prevent leaks, the officials said.
Multiple news organizations, including NBC News, have requested access to or photos from inside overcrowded border processing facilities holding unaccompanied migrant children; they have been denied. The DHS press office released one photo late Tuesday of a mother and child undergoing a health screening inside a border facility, but no wider shots to show conditions or sleeping arrangements.
The new restrictions have been passed down verbally, not through an official memo, the officials said. The unofficial policy has led some agents at the border to release videos that show mass arrests and surges of migrants without permission from Washington, two officials said.
Some of the restrictions, particularly for in-person tours, are due to Covid-19 precautions, said one of the current officials. But, as the current official said, while the Trump administration allowed some border ride-alongs for journalists during the pandemic, there has been “not a single one since January 20,” the day President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
One of the officials who has served during the past three administrations noted that the current situation at the border and Biden’s gag order “is more similar to what it was during the Obama administration.”