Society of Professional Journalists asks DHS to lift media restrictions

Society of Professional Journalists asks DHS to lift media restrictions
© Greg Nash

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop blocking media access to border facilities in a statement released Tuesday.

“President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE promised both a more humane approach to immigration and more transparency than his predecessor. His administration’s refusal to let journalists fully observe and assess the growing humanitarian crisis at the border involving unaccompanied migrant children shows he is failing on both promises,” SPJ said in the statement.

The group is just the latest of many calling on the Biden administration to allow the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service to be more transparent in its operations along the southern border, especially in the facilities where unaccompanied migrant children are being housed.

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Biden’s spokespeople have said COVID-19 and privacy concerns have forced it to end the practice of media ride-alongs with border officials. In addition, reporters and photographers have not been allowed inside the CBP facilities that first became infamous during former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE’s crackdown on immigration.

A spokesman for DHS did not immediately respond to questions about the SPJ letter.

“SPJ condemns the tactics happening at the U.S.-Mexico border that put restrictions on the media,” the statement said. “Amid the current influx of people — including unaccompanied minors and children separated from their families — at the border, it is crucial that journalists be allowed unfettered access to report to the public what is occurring there."

“The last three presidential administrations have granted journalists at least some access to border facilities,” the group added.

The White House has come increasingly under fire recently for the media blackout, especially during the daily press briefings.

On March 17, NBC was one of the first national news organizations to report on the restrictions, 

in a story that found all media requests, even those from local outlets were being referred to CBP staffers in Washington and that CBP was denying all “ride-along” requests.