Asylum seekers are seen at a U.S. Border Patrol processing center near Mission, Texas, on March 23, 2021. CPJ called on the U.S. government to allow journalists into border detention facilities. (AFP/John Moore/Getty)

CPJ calls on US government to give journalists access to border detention facilities

New York, March 23, 2021 — The United States Department of Homeland Security must allow journalists access to detention facilities and Border Patrol activities along the U.S.- Mexico border, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

In recent weeks, D.H.S. and Border Patrol officials have barred all members of the press from entering detention facilities, according to an account from Getty Images photographer John Moore in The Washington Post and other news reports. Moore also wrote in the Post article that Border Patrol officials would not allow him to photograph agents detaining migrants. Officials have cited COVID-19 and privacy concerns for the restrictions, according to those reports.

“The Department of Homeland Security must allow journalists to access detention facilities and patrol activity at the Mexican border, so they can do their jobs and report on immigration issues, a matter of great public concern,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna. “The Biden administration promised greater transparency—including on the issue of immigration. It is time for officials to live up to those promises.”

On March 19, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited the border and briefed lawmakers on the situation there; members of the press were barred from accompanying the group, according to CNN.

CPJ has published a proposal to the Biden administration about how to restore U.S. leadership in global press freedom. CPJ’s 2018 report, “Nothing to Declare,” detailed the harassment of journalists at U.S. borders, including extra screenings of journalists and searches of their electronic devices without a warrant.