The Biden administration is finally allowing press cameras into a border facility holding migrant children on Wednesday when White House officials and members of Congress visit one in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
The White House announced that one network pooled camera will be allowed inside during the tour and the footage will be shared once the tour concludes. The administration has faced criticism for not letting cameras inside the holding shelters.
More than 16,000 migrant children are currently in U.S. custody amid a surge of border crossings. The administration is on track to open six more emergency shelters to handle the influx.
The situation is rapidly becoming a breaking point for President Joe Biden and his administration. Republicans have taken on the issue to berate the new president for rescinding Donald Trump’s stricter border policies. And lawyers who have been inside the facilities report the children live in crowded conditions with not enough beds or food.
Joe Biden administration is finally allowing press cameras into a border facility holding migrant children when officials tour Carrizo Springs shelter
Vice President Kamala Harris said both she and President Joe Biden will visit the border ‘at some point’
Biden has said he will visit the border at some point, which Vice President Kamala Harris echoed in an interview with CBS News on Wednesday morning.
‘At some point — absolutely we will go down to the border,’ she said.
The Biden administration has blamed the situation – which they refuse to call a crisis – on the previous Trump administration policies.
‘There are things that we need to do, especially since there was a system in place previously, before last administration, to allow us to process these kids in their country of origin. That was dismantled. We’ve to reconstruct it. It’s not going to happen overnight,’ Harris told CBS’ ‘Early Show.’
‘We are addressing it. We’re dealing with it. But it’s going to take some time,’ she said. ‘And are we frustrated? Are you frustrated? Yes. We are.’
Biden and Harris are holding a closed-door meeting at the White House on Wednesday afternoon with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Republicans have pressured the Biden administration to allow media access to the shelters.
‘They’re hoping nobody sees the tragic human cost of their failed policies,’ Texas Senator Ted Cruz said.
Cruz, who is leading a group of senators in a border tour on Friday, wrote the White House requesting the media be allowed to accompany them.
‘It is not enough for members of the Senate to see what is happening — the American people must see. That is why I requested that members of the media be allowed to join us.
‘But your administration clearly and emphatically refused to offer press access.
‘This is outrageous and hypocritical,’ he said.
Meanwhile, US Customs and Border Protection released new videos and photos this week as the pressure built and after a Texas Democrat leapfrogged the agency and shared images of the ‘terrible conditions for children’ at the border.
The agency finally released photos Tuesday where children are seen packed inside pens and forced to sleep on the floors in foil blankets.
The CBP has repeatedly used COVID-19 precautions as an excuse to deny the media all access to its detention centers and the White House has kept the public in the dark for weeks.
Officials say they want to ‘balance the need for public transparency and accountability’ – while still telling ‘external visitors’ not to visit the facilities to see the conditions for themselves.
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas released photos of the temporary facility in Donna, Texas, and slammed the situation a ‘humanitarian crisis.’
A leaked memo sent Monday revealed the Department of Health and Human Services’s refugee agency is now directing its shelters to fast-track the release of children to parents or guardians in the US to free up beds to take more children from the CBP detention centers.
One image shows children lying packed in like sardines side by side on mattresses on the floors inside a makeshift facility in Donna
Another image is taken from the outside of a transparent tent looking in on the dozens of people packed inside
Migrant children stand in line inside a temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas, to get access to essentials while other children held in cage-like tents look on and wait their turn
A children’s play area is seen inside the temporary processing facility in Donna. The play area has a handful of toys and appears to be in a storage room or waiting area
Video taken inside the facility in El Paso, Texas, shows migrants lying on mattresses on the floor with foil blankets
Inside the Donna facility. The CBP has repeatedly used COVID-19 precautions as an excuse to deny the media all access to its detention centers
After keeping a tight lid on what is going on inside the facilities for weeks, a collection of images and video has finally been released by the CBP claiming to give a glimpse into what life is like inside the temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas, and the Central Processing Center in El Paso, Texas.
Inside the Donna facility, children are seen lying packed in like sardines side by side on mattresses on the floors inside a transparent tent facility.
The children are wrapped in foil blankets for warmth and are wearing face masks, but there is clearly no room for social distancing in the small confined space.
Migrant children are also seen standing in line to get access to essential items and food while other children held in cage-like tents look on and wait their turn.
Numbered transparent tent-like pens are seen set up on both sides of a room each packed with migrants who are awaiting processing to enter America.
An image taken from the outside of one of the tent looks in on the dozens of people packed inside with pieces of foil blankets scattered around.
There is also a children’s play area set up in what appears to be a storage room or waiting area, with a handful of toys for young kids.
Meanwhile, footage taken inside the El Paso facility appears to paint a fun atmosphere with children seen sitting around watching television in a room and later screaming and shouting as they enjoy group exercise outdoors.
It’s all a far cry from reports that have emerged in recent weeks – not to mention curiously somewhat less overcrowded in appearance than Cueller’s images of the very same facility in Donna shared just 24 hours earlier.
Neha Desai, a lawyer for the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) which represents migrant youth in government custody, told CBS about the harrowing conditions she saw at the Donna facility.
She said the tent was so overcrowded that migrant children had to take turns sleeping on the floor and could only shower once a week.
Many children also said they were being denied phone calls with their family members and hadn’t been outside in days.
One of them shared that he could only see the sun when he showered, because you can see the sun through the window,’ Desai said.