Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez (Calif.) provided cover for the Biden administration on Thursday by arguing that it’s not “appropriate” for members of the media to see inside migrant children border facilities operated by the federal government amid the ongoing border crisis.
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Media organizations and immigration activists have been trying for weeks to gain access to the facilities to document the conditions under which thousands of migrant children are being held as unprecedented numbers of migrants surge across the U.S.-Mexico border. But the Biden administration has so far denied entry to the media, conveniently citing coronavirus concerns.
The little reporting that has come out about the facilities has been concerning, to say the least, as it describes thousands of children locked up in grim cells, “akin to jails,” for longer periods of time than is legally allowed.
Yet, in an interview with CNN on Thursday, Sanchez hypocritically sided with the Biden administration, suggesting it’s better that the public not see what’s really going on.
“I don’t necessarily think that it’s appropriate for journalists to be inside centers that are not permanent places for children,” she said.
“Children are not placed there permanently,” she continued. “They are processed out of those facilities as quickly as possible and as quickly as the facilities will allow.”
In uncharacteristic fashion, the CNN reporter conducting the interview, Poppy Harlow, actually did a good job holding Sanchez’s feet to the fire on the issue.
Earlier in the conversation, Harlow pushed back after Sanchez demurred following a question about the the administration’s “lack of transparency.” Rather than answering, Sanchez, who was visually upset, noted that members of Congress weren’t allowed inside similar facilities during the Trump administration.
“But that doesn’t mean anything now, respectfully, congresswoman,” Harlow shot back. “I mean, clearly you were upset about that lack of transparency. Are you concerned about this lack of transparency?”
Sanchez responded by saying “you can’t fault an administration that is doing everything humanly possible to treat these kids in a humane way” given the limitations placed on it by the coronavirus pandemic.
“They are doing the best they can under COVID protocols,” she argued. “If it were not a pandemic, I would totally understand the concern.”
However, denying media access to the facilities is not the only way that the administration is reportedly suppressing information about the crisis at the souther border. News also broke recently that an unofficial “gag order” has been passed down on Border Patrol agents, restricting them from sharing information with the media.