Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, released photos of migrants in clear pens akin to cages
Photos of migrants in a crowded border facility in Donna, Texas, were released Monday by the office of Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, as the Biden administration limits media access to the southwestern border.
The migrants, who are in clear pens akin to cages, are seen sleeping on pads on the floor with aluminum blankets. In some instances, it appears that dozens are sharing individual pens. Most appear to be wearing masks.
Amid a significant surge of migrants to the southern border in President Biden’s first two months, some in the media have complained about a lack of access to facilities like the one in Donna.
“I respectfully ask US Customs and Border Protection to stop blocking media access to their border operations,” award-winning photojournalist John Moore tweeted Friday. “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.”
He added: “There’s no modern precedent for a full physical ban on media access to CBP border operations.”
The White House has said that it is limiting media access to border facilities in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that the Biden administration is aiming to finalize details on how the media can access border facilities like the one in Donna, Texas.
Psaki responded to the photos on Monday, as a reporter asked her whether the conditions the migrant children are being kept in represent a crisis.
“Children presenting at our border who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing prosecution, who are fleeing terrible situations, is not a crisis,” she responded. “We feel that it is our responsibility to humanely approach this circumstance and make sure they are treated and put in conditions that are safe. I will say that these photos show what we’ve long been saying, which is that these border patrol facilities are not places made for children. They are not places that we want children to be staying for an extended period of time. Our alternative is to send children back on this treacherous journey. That is not, in our view, the right choice to make.”
She continued to say that the Biden administration is aiming to ease the pressure on facilities like the one in Donna, Texas.
The photos released Monday also upset some on the right who believed Democrats are being hypocritical in saying there is no crisis currently on the southern border after sounding the alarm over the treatment of migrants under former President Donald Trump.
“Either Dems and media faked the tears and ‘outrage’ pre-Biden, or they meant it,” Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., tweeted. “If it’s the latter, where are they now? Kids are in cages. And this surge is far worse than any under President Trump.”
By Tyler Olson, Evie Fordham contributed to this report.