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Society of Pro Journalists urges DHS to stop blocking press access at border

The Society of Professional Journalists urges the Department of Homeland Security to reverse its position on blocking media access to border facilities.

“President Joe Biden promised both a more humane approach to immigration and more transparency than his predecessor. His administration’s refusal to let journalists fully observe and assess the growing humanitarian crisis at the border involving unaccompanied migrant children shows he is failing on both promises. We urge Biden and his administration to let journalists do their job by granting them access to facilities along the border and granting them interviews from officials who know and can accurately convey to the public what is going on. Such transparency is of the utmost importance at this time and all the time,” said SPJ National President Matthew T. Hall.

SPJ condemns the tactics happening at the U.S.-Mexico border that put restrictions on the media. Amid the current influx of people – including unaccompanied minors and children separated from their families – at the border, it is crucial that journalists be allowed unfettered access to report to the public what is occurring there.

SPJ will join other journalism and open government groups this week in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas requesting access for journalists. The letter addresses the argument by the Biden administration that the ongoing pandemic is at least in part to blame for blocked media access. But the groups point out that jails and courthouses have continued to grant media access over the past year. The letter also notes that the First Amendment is not suspended during public emergencies and the coronavirus pandemic is not an exception.

The last three presidential administrations have granted journalists at least some access to border facilities.

Matthew T. Hall is the national president of the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

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CBP photo

The temporary processing facilities in Donna, Texas, February 25, 2021, constructed to safely process family units and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) encountered and in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.