Sen. Ted Cruz slammed Homeland Security Secretary Alejando Mayorkas on Thursday for not inviting reporters to accompany him on a tour of two border towns, saying the media blackout is an attempt to hide the Biden administration’s failure to handle the mass of unaccompanied child migrants crossing into the US.
Cruz, a Texas Republican, responded to a posting from the Department of Homeland Security announcing Mayorkas’ visit to El Paso and McAllen and his intent to meet with immigration advocates, law enforcement officials, local politicians and frontline DHS workers, meetings in which reporters would not be allowed.
”‘Closed press,’” Cruz tweeted on Thursday. “Once again, Joe Biden is trying to hide his egregious failures at the border from the American people. #HidenBiden.”
The secretary’s two earlier visits to the border on March 6 and March 19 were also off limits to the media.
But neither President Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden tapped two weeks ago to head up the administration’s response, have made a single trip yet to assess the crisis firsthand.
Mayorkas’ return to Texas happened as Customs and Border Patrol released new numbers on immigration showing the rate of migrants crossing the border have risen 71 percent in March over February.
In March, Border Patrol agents encountered more than 172,000 people trying to enter the US illegally along the border, up from the 100,441 who tried to cross in February, the agency said in a statement Thursday.
It also said agents encountered 18,890 unaccompanied children from Central America, doubling February’s number of 9,297 minors.
Following Mayorkas’ visit, local leaders, including Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) held a news briefing to discuss the tour.
But Mayorkas was not among them.
Asked what Mayorkas discussed with the officials, Escobar described it as more of a listening session.
“What I can share is the administration is shrinking the amount of time that the kids are in shelters,” she said.
The Biden administration has struggled to get a handle on the increasing number of young migrants heading to the border, building temporary shelters and using available space on military bases and convention centers to reduce the cramped conditions in federal facilities.
More than 19,000 migrants are now in federal custody at the border.