DHS secretary says the Biden administration is ‘working on providing footage’ of migrant facilities amid calls to allow press inside

Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on March 1, 2021. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • DHS Alejandro Mayorkas said the agency will release “footage” of migrant facilities.
  • The Biden administration has been criticized for its refusal to allow members of the press inside the facilities.
  • Mayorkas blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for authorities’ refusal to allow the press inside.
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Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday the Biden administration would release video “footage” of the conditions of the inside of migrant detention facilities to assuage concerns amid its continued refusal to allow members of the press inside.

“Let’s not forget that we’re in the midst of a pandemic and we are focused on our operations, executing our operations in a crowded border patrol facility where hundreds of vulnerable migrant children are located,” Mayorkas said.

He made the comments during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about the repeated calls to let members of the press tour the facilities along the southern border where the DHS is housing child migrants upon their entry into the US.

“We’re working on providing footage so the American public can see the border patrol stations, and I would encourage you and other reporters to see the facilities under the control of the Health and Human Services Department where those children are sheltered, and where they belong, and where we are moving them as quickly as possible,” he said.

By law, unaccompanied children are supposed to be removed from the custody of CBP within 72 hours and transferred to a facility operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

When “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace pressed Mayorkas on his claim that COVID-19 was preventing press access to these facilities, Mayorkas said DHS was “working on providing access so that individuals will be able to see what the conditions in a border control station look like.”

Mayorkas told NBC News’ Chuck Todd during an appearance on “Meet the Press” that the agency was “not focused on ride-alongs right now.”

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A bipartisan pair of senators on Saturday called on the Biden administration to allow the press to access facilities where the US is detaining child migrants, The Washington Post reported. Senators who visited the facilities Friday described crowded conditions and children being detained longer than is legally allowed, according to the report.

The senators’ comments followed their trip to the southern border with Moyoraks to visit a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility in El Paso, Texas, according to The Hill. The Department of Homeland Security did not allow members of the press to accompany Mayorkas and the senators on the facility visit, citing COVID-19 concerns.

Mayorkas also said on Sunday that the US border was “secure” and “closed” amid growing concerns over the number of migrants unlawfully entering the US. Mayorkas told “Meet the Press” adult migrants and migrants traveling as families were being sent back to their home countries upon entry but said “vulnerable” child migrants would not be deported.