Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, co-authored a letter submitted Thursday to Biden administration officials denouncing recent actions that disrupted media coverage of the migrant surge at the southern border, saying it reflected an plan to undermine efforts to expose the unfolding “national security disaster.”
“If we don’t understand the extent of the problem and the administration continues to take steps to obscure the crisis at our southern border, the crisis will only get worse,” according to the letter, co-signed by 39 other congressional representatives. “We need transparency and a concerted, whole-of-government effort to tackle this crisis head-on if we are to secure our borders.”
The letter criticized Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for imposing restraints last week on media outlets flying drones around a bridge at the Rio Grande in Texas, where thousands of would-be border crossers, mostly Haitians, have established makeshift camps.
The drones were ordered grounded under an FAA temporary flight restriction requested by the U.S. Border Patrol, according to published reports.
“The impacted media outlets claim they have flown drones over the border in this general location for months without any federal impediment,” the letter states. “The common thread is that President Biden refuses to be honest with the American people about the nature of the crisis … or supply the resources this administration needs to bring the border situation under control.”
Neither the DOJ or FAA immediately responded to a request for comment.
In a media briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the “situation at the border is the result of a broken (immigration) system” and that the president was relying on “all of his experiences to inform how he governs, how he approaches challenges.”
She did not specify what policies the administration intends to implement to curb the streams of border crossers illegally entering the country or deter migrant caravans from Central America.
In his first week in office, Biden signed executive orders rescinding former President Donald Trump’s immigration controls, including halting border wall construction.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month ruled Trump’s “Remain-in-Mexico” policy was lawful, despite the Biden administration’s desire to end it, and should remain in place. The policy requires asylum-seekers to remain south of the border while their applications are reviewed in the U.S.
According to the letter sent by Calvert and the other congressmen, more than 1.3 million migrants have been apprehended entering the U.S. illegally between January and this month, representing a 386% increase compared to the same period in 2020.
“The crisis at our border is only getting worse because of President Biden’s open border policies,” Calvert said in a separate statement. “The humanitarian and national security disaster occurring along our border in Texas is the direct result of actions taken by the president. The administration’s attempts to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of the media in a desperate attempt to keep the camps and masses of immigrants out of public view is shameful.”
Calvert and the other congressmen, including two from California — Rep. Doug LaMalf, R-Richvale, and Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Roseville — requested a “detailed explanation” on how the Department of Homeland Security is processing migrants, and whether officials are utilizing the Remain-in-Mexico policy.
They also asked for the agency to state how it “plans to address the current surge and discourage people from trying to illegally come into the U.S.”
The signers further urged the FAA to stop flight restrictions that ground media drones at the border.