Pictures provided to Axios from Rep. Henry Cuellar's (D-TX) office show the inside of the crowded migrant holding facility in Donna, Texas amid a massive surge in traffic at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Biden administration has held firm against having members of the media document the conditions of the overcrowded facilities, citing COVID-19 and privacy concerns. But the excuse does not apply to members of Congress and their staff.
It's because of that loophole that Cuellar's office was able to take photos of the facility and provide the photos to Axios:
"Each of eight 'pods' in the so-called soft-sided facility has a 260-person occupancy, said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who provided the photos to Axios to raise awareness about the situation. But as of Sunday, he said, one pod held more than 400 unaccompanied male minors."
Cuellar did not take the photos himself since he did not tour the Donna facility, but they were taken from this past weekend.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated during his interview with Fox Sunday that DHS is working to gather video of the facilities so it can be released to the public. But it's not just facility tours that have been put on hold. Ride alongs with Border Patrol for the press have also been paused and Border Patrol Sectors are being pressured to stay quiet about the daily increase in illegal foot traffic unless they go through headquarters in Washington, D.C.
.@Julio_Rosas11:— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) March 22, 2021
"It's pretty obvious why the administration doesn't want members of the press to document for themselves what's happening in these facilities...simply because this is a crisis; what makes it worse is that this is a self-inflicted crisis." pic.twitter.com/YdWY0WOwWM
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the pictures during Monday's press conference. Psaki said unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in large numbers does not constitute a crisis:
Great question from NBC's @KellyO about the @Axios report with photos provided by Congressman Cuellar and how can anyone say that's not a crisis.— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) March 22, 2021
Psaki replies that "children...fleeing violence, who are fleeing persecution, who are fleeing terrible situations is not a crisis." pic.twitter.com/vV1hMMCpLp