Reporters will not be allowed to tour migrant detention centers holding minors near the border of the United States and Mexico due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families this week.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported exclusively on Monday that media members will be unable to visit the recently-opened Carrizo Spring facility for unaccompanied minors in Texas.
“The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is not hosting media tours of unaccompanied children (UC) facilities currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” an ACF spokesperson told the Daily Caller. “If media tours resume, we will send a media advisory.”
During a White House briefing on Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he would investigate why one ABC News reporter was told the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from having access to migrant facilities in Texas.
“I’m happy to take a look at that, I owe it to my people to understand the situation and the reasons why access was denied,” Mayorkas said. “Let me share with you what I communicate to the workforce and we’ll leave it at that because it’s in the service of openness and transparency. Don’t shrink from criticism, just work very hard not to deserve it.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the privately-operated Carrizo Springs is not required to follow the standards of government-owned facilities, raising questions and criticism from immigration activists.
Originally opened in June 2019, the Trump administration closed the facility after criticism, but President Joe Biden’s administration has re-opened Carrizo Springs to help handle an influx of children at the southern border.
According to the Journal, the Department of Health and Human Services refused to address any changes made under the Biden administration, or how the migrants would be treated differently.
The children in the facility are migrants under the age of 18 who crossed the border unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The migrants’ ages range from toddlers to teenagers, often journeying with older siblings or relatives who are also underage, the Journal reported.
The Biden administration is facing an increase in children crossing the border illegally. In January, 5,707 unaccompanied children arrived at the border, a jump from 4,855 in December. Government capacity in the child-shelter network is limited, with shelters 93 percent full as of February 19.
The new administration has implemented sweeping changes to immigration police since Biden took office on January 20, including ending construction of Trump’s border wall and emergency declaration, introducing a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants and creating new rules that protect many illegal immigrants from deportation.