Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said that members of the press should not be granted access to federal facilities near the Southern Border that house unaccompanied minors who entered the United States illegally.
“I don’t necessarily think that it’s appropriate for journalists to be inside centers that are not permanent places for children,” Sanchez said when she was asked during a CNN interview about what some have said is the White House’s lack of transparency surrounding Customs and Border Protection activity.
She initially replied that former President Donald Trump previously denied members of Congress access to border housing facilities.
“Because of COVID protocols, you can’t fill them to capacity, you have to have social distancing,” Sanchez added. “They are trying to process children as quickly as they can, and, no, these detention facilities at the border were not meant for children. Children are meant to be in licensed facilities.”
But due to COVID-19 requirements and other provisions, officials are “doing the best that they can,” she said.
“Children are not placed there permanently. They are processed out of those facilities as quickly as possible and as quickly as the facilities will allow,” Sanchez said.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said journalists won’t be allowed to accompany Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas while he heads to the border on Friday in the midst of a surge of illegal immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Sanchez, in a statement to news outlets Friday, elaborated on her statement to CNN.
“The Biden Administration has been clear. Border facilities are not adequate for the care of children, and they are doing everything they can to transfer children to HHS for safe processing. And right now, the Administration has not been hosting media tours of unaccompanied children facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
“I am committed to transparency and finding ways for [the] press to fully report the process at the border. But the safety and privacy of the children must be protected, especially during a pandemic. I look forward to seeing how the Administration makes that possible,” she added, reported The Hill.
Mayorkas’s visit comes as a number of Republican lawmakers went to the border.
“We’ll be looking at some of the issues including this huge problem with unaccompanied kids coming across the border,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told Fox News, adding that he will visit with the DHS secretary. “Those numbers have increased even more dramatically to the point that right now we have a true crisis in the detention facilities … We’re gonna talk about that tomorrow and we’ll see some of those facilities. And we’ll have a chance to talk about what I saw tonight.”