One House Democrat says it’s not “appropriate” for journalists to see inside the strained border facilities that are overwhelmed by the influx of migrant children trying to gain entry into the United States.
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., pushed back on the concerns from journalists who have been denied access inside the border patrol facilities processing the thousands of children.
“I don’t necessarily think that it’s appropriate for journalists to be inside centers that are not permanent places for children. Children are not placed there permanently,” Sanchez said during an interview Thursday. “They are processed out of those facilities as quickly as possible and as quickly as the facilities will allow.”
CNN’s Poppy Harlow called out Sanchez’s stance and questioned if she was concerned about the Biden administration’s lack of transparency.
“Under the Trump administration, members of Congress were not allowed inside these facilities,” Sanchez replied.
“That just doesn’t mean anything now, respectfully, congresswoman,” Harlow pushed back. “Clearly you were upset about that lack of transparency. Are you concerned about this lack of transparency?”
Sanchez said “sure.” She went on to bring up the coronavirus pandemic to justify her stance on entering the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities that serve as intake centers for the children before they can be transferred into children-specific shelters provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“[B]ecause of COVID protocols, you can’t fill them to capacity, you have to have social distancing,” Sanchez said. “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 because of the numbers and because of the social distancing that’s required, they are doing the best that they can.”
During the Trump administration, Democratic members of Congress were were allowed to visit border facilities and members, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., took that opportunity to detail the “horrifying” conditions at one Texas migrant facility.
Sanchez further clarified her position on Saturday in a statement to Fox News that cited the need to protect the privacy of the children and stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
“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,” Sanchez said in a statement.
She added: “I am committed to transparency and finding ways for 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.”