The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) instituted a two-week flight restriction over the city of Del Rio, Texas late Thursday — preventing Fox News from operating a drone that it had been using to capture images of thousands of migrants sheltering under a bridge as they wait to be picked up by Border Patrol.
The FAA’s website said that the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the Del Rio Port of Entry and the International Bridge was put in place for “Special Security Reasons,” but did not elaborate.
In a statement, the FAA said, “the Border Patrol requested the temporary flight restriction due to drones interfering with law enforcement flights on the border. As with any temporary flight restriction, media is able to call the FAA to make requests to operate in the area.”
Fox News national correspondent Bill Melguin told Tucker Carlson Thursday night that he found the timing and location of the TFR to be “a little bit curious.”
“I just want to point out, Fox News has been at the border for the better part of seven months now,” Melugin said. “We’ve been using the drone the entire time. It’s never been an issue. All of a sudden, the last 24 hours, we start showing these images at this bridge and a TFR goes up. We can no longer fly.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who was in Del Rio Thursday night, slammed the restriction as “ridiculous” and said he had “never seen anything like that.”
“The drone footage started this morning, and people across the country were horrified, and I guess the political operatives at the Biden White House saw that and decided the last thing they want is Fox News actually reporting on what’s happening down here,” he said.
Cruz told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the scene under the bridge was “the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen. Right now, as we’re speaking, there are 10,503 people under that bridge. It is packed in as a mass of humanity. The scope of it, until you see it … it just goes on and on and on. Infants, little children, people struggling enormously.”
Fox News has reported that most of the migrants who wait under the bridge are Haitians and their numbers have increased from around 4,000 Wednesday morning to the number quoted by Cruz Thursday night.
“This is a man-made crisis,” the senator said. “Eight days ago, on Sept. 8, under that same bridge, there were between 700 and 1,000 people. That was what was coming a day — about 1,000, sometimes 1,100 — but it would range between 700 and 1,100.
“Then, eight days ago on Sept. 8, the Biden administration made a political decision: They announced that they were no longer going to fly deportation flights back to Haiti,” Cruz added. “Eighty-five percent of the people under there are from Haiti. They’re fleeing from Haiti … There were about 900 Haitians who were getting ready to board the flights when the political operatives in Washington canceled the flights.
“Well, what happened?” the Texas Republican asked. “Those 900 people, they all pulled out their cell phones and they emailed their friends and they emailed their families and they texted their friends and their families. That was eight days ago … eight days later, and 700 people have grown to 10,500 because the word has gone out: If you’re from Haiti, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have said, ‘We have open borders, come to Del Rio and they will let you in’.”
In Austin, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott initially announced Thursday that he had directed state law enforcement to close six ports of entry and claimed federal officials were “requesting our help as their agents are overwhelmed by the chaos.”
Hours later, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) tweeted that US Customers and Border Protection (CBP) had asked the agency if “we would be able to assist them with shutting down ports of entry in the Del Rio sector and we prepared to do so.
“Our partners have advised us that shutting down ports of entry is no longer part of their strategy,” DPS added.
Abbott then issued a second statement, which said that the Biden administration “has now flip-flopped to a different strategy that abandons border security and instead makes it easier for people to cross illegally and for cartels to exploit the border.
“The Biden Administration is in complete disarray and is handling the border crisis as badly as the evacuation from Afghanistan,” the governor added. “I have directed the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard to maintain their presence at and around ports of entry to deter crossings.”
The latest controversy erupted one day after confirmed that border officials had encountered 208,887 migrants at the southwestern frontier in August. That total, while slightly down from the 213,534 migrants encountered in July, marks the first time that more than 200,000 migrant encounters have been recorded in consecutive months since February and March of 2000 (211,328 and 220,063 respectively).
Through the first eight months of this year, officials have stopped 1,323,597 migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border.