Rep. Sanchez: Not appropriate for reporters to see inside border facilities for children
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) on Thursday said she didn’t think journalists should be granted access to federal facilities where migrant children are being held near the southern border.
“I don’t necessarily think that it’s appropriate for journalists to be inside centers that are not permanent places for children,” Sanchez said when asked during a CNN interview about the Biden administration’s lack of transparency concerning Customs and Border Protection activity.
Journalists and refugee advocates have been pressing the Biden administration to provide access to facilities where immigrant children are being housed. Reporters have also complained of border agencies no longer offering ride-alongs, which were common during most of the Trump administration.
Sanchez’s remarks on Thursday came in response to CNN anchor Poppy Harlow’s question about whether she was concerned that the Biden administration wasn’t giving reporters access to facilities that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said were not meant for children.
Sanchez initially replied that former President Trump had denied members of Congress access.
“But that doesn’t mean anything now, respectfully, congresswoman. I mean, clearly you were upset about that lack of transparency. Are you concerned about this lack of transparency?” the anchor asked.
In response, Sanchez defended the Biden administration’s response to the migrant surge and said it was not appropriate for reporters to visit facilities that are only meant to be temporary holding centers for unaccompanied child migrants.
“[The] children are not placed there permanently,” Sanchez said. “They’re processed out of those facilities as quickly as possible and as quickly as the facilities will allow.”
Her comments came a day before the Department of Homeland Security said reporters would not be allowed to accompany Mayorkas on Friday as he tours facilities at the southern border.
On Friday, Sanchez further explained her position, saying media should not have access to the facilities until the administration can address concerns over the pandemic and the privacy of the migrant children.
“The Biden Administration has been clear. Border facilities are not adequate for the care of children, and they are doing everything they can to transfer children to HHS for safe processing. And right now, the Administration has not been hosting media tours of unaccompanied children facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sanchez said in a statement.
“I am committed to transparency and finding ways for [the] press to fully report the process at the border. But the safety and privacy of the children must be protected, especially during a pandemic. I look forward to seeing how the Administration makes that possible,” she added.
Immigration has quickly become one of the biggest challenges facing the Biden administration. Apprehensions at the border rose 28 percent from January to February, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. And earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security said the U.S. is “on pace to encounter more individuals on the Southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
Updated: 12:59 p.m.