Biden Admin Bans Drones From Photographing Immigration Crisis

More than 10,000 immigrants encamped at border

Some of the thousands of immigrants sheltered near the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas / Reuters
September 17, 2021

The Biden administration banned the media from using drones to take pictures of a U.S.-Mexico border checkpoint as tens of thousands of immigrants pour across the border.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which is under the control of Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, ordered a two-week flight ban over the Del Rio, Texas, border crossing and the city's International Bridge. Before the order, Fox News had used a drone to take pictures of thousands of migrants who crossed the border illegally and are sheltering under a bridge in Del Rio.

The FAA said that the "Border Patrol requested the temporary flight restriction due to drones interfering with law enforcement flights" and noted that media outlets can "make requests to operate in the area."

"Fox News has been at the border for the better part of seven months now," said network correspondent Bill Melugin. "It's never been an issue. All of a sudden, the last 24 hours, we start showing these images at this bridge and a [temporary flight restriction] goes up." He called the ban's timing "a little bit curious."

Texas senator Ted Cruz (R.), who called the humanitarian situation "the most horrific thing I've ever seen," went further, saying that "political operatives at the Biden White House" ordered the ban because "the last thing they want is Fox News actually reporting on what's happening down here."

More than 10,500 immigrants are camped out under the bridge as they wait for Border Patrol agents to arrest them, at which point they can plead asylum. The migrants, a majority of whom are Haitian, are living in squalid conditions with few basic services, the BBC reported Friday.

Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) on Thursday said federal agents were "overwhelmed by the chaos," which he blamed on the White House. Border Patrol fears a "human stampede could happen at any time," Univision reported Friday.

The crisis is not the first time the administration has faced extensive criticism for its handling of the border. Under Biden, illegal border crossings have risen to their highest point in 21 years, with 208,887 Border Control encounters in August alone. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security expects a terror threat from Mexico, and attempts to smuggle fentanyl at the border have surged.

Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden in March named border czar, did not visit the border until June.