In a letter to President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R–TX) criticized U.S. Customs and Border Protection for its restriction of the press from detention centers and called on Biden to allow journalists full access to immigration facilities. The letter stated:
As part of our oversight duties as Senators, I and 14 of my colleagues will travel to the border this week to talk to the brave men and women on the ground who are working every today to stop this crisis and secure our border.
But it is not enough for members of the Senate to see what is happening-the American people must see. That is why I requested that members of the media be allowed to join us. But your administration clearly and emphatically refused to offer press access. This is outrageous and hypocritical.
In January, Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki promised an administration of “truth and transparency,” asserting, “I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and the role that all of you play.”
The United States’ border crisis has grown increasingly chaotic in the past several months. According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, “We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
Award-winning photojournalist John Moore drew national attention to the issue after a Twitter thread begging officials to end the media blackout on the southern border went viral:
I respectfully ask US Customs and Border Protection to stop blocking media access to their border operations. I have photographed CBP under Bush, Obama and Trump but now – zero access is granted to media. These long lens images taken from the Mexican side. @CBP #gettyimagesnews pic.twitter.com/cWa90TlfeS
— John Moore (@jbmoorephoto) March 19, 2021
What about the argument that opening immigration facilities to the press would distract officials focused on an escalating border crisis? Moore argued:
There’s no modern precedent for a full physical ban on media access to CBP border operations. To those who might say, cut them some slack – they are dealing with a situation, I’d say that showing the US response to the current immigrant surge is exactly the media’s role.