RTDNA calls on Secretary Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security to allow journalists access to Border Patrol facilities, officials

Today, the Radio Television Digital News Association sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas demanding immediate access for journalists to Border Patrol processing facilities and Border Patrol officials.
 
“The lack of information and collaboration from the Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security has also created a vacuum of sorts that traditionally biased sources are filling with information that serves only their political interests. This dynamic is not conducive to efforts by journalists to communicate unbiased information to the public nor is it constructive to the heated dialogue of elected officials both locally and nationally,” RTDNA’s executive director, Dan Shelley, stated in the letter.
 
The letter is in response to reports the Biden administration is restricting the information Border Patrol agents and sector chiefs can share with the media as a historic surge of migrants has arrived at the southern border of the United States.
 
RTDNA speaks on behalf of its members and the thousands of broadcast and digital journalists who work every day to provide the public clear, credible and unbiased information about the actions of government agencies.
 
“At a time when the southern border of the United States is undergoing a historic surge of migrants, it is more important than ever that journalists be allowed the necessary access to report accurately and independently on the Border Patrol’s response to the increased arrival of migrants and the wellbeing of those housed in Border Patrol facilities,” Shelley stated.
RADIO TELEVISION DIGITAL NEWS ASSOCIATION
RADIO TELEVISION DIGITAL NEWS FOUNDATION
March 18, 2021
The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Mayorkas,
 
On behalf of the Radio Television Digital News Association, its members and the thousands of broadcast and digital journalists we represent in the United States and throughout the world, I am writing with regard to concerning reports that Border Patrol officials are limiting access even to basic information about border processing facilities.
 
It is even more alarming that this apparent “gag order” has allegedly been made by officials at the very highest levels in the Department of Homeland Security.
 
At a time when the southern border of the United States is undergoing a historic surge of migrants, it is more important than ever that journalists be allowed the necessary access to report accurately and independently on the Border Patrol’s response to the increased arrival of migrants and the wellbeing of those housed in Border Patrol facilities.
 
The lack of information and collaboration from the Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security has also created a vacuum of sorts that traditionally biased sources are filling with information that serves only their political interests. This dynamic is not conducive to efforts by journalists to communicate unbiased information to the public nor is it constructive to the heated dialogue of elected officials both locally and nationally.
 
As you know, journalists serve their communities and the nation at large by seeking and reporting the truth regarding matters of public importance, particularly as it relates to actions the federal government is taking in people’s name and on their behalf.
 
Respectfully, I ask that the Department of Homeland Security immediately allow journalists access to Border Patrol processing facilities and interviews with Border Patrol officials.
 
In addition, I welcome a conversation with you and your staff on how to implement quickly a level of access and information-sharing that will allow journalists to report, in real time, the dynamic situation at our southern border in a safe and collaborative manner.

Sincerely,
Dan Shelley
RTDNA Executive Director, COO


About RTDNA
The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) is the world's largest professional organization devoted exclusively to broadcast and digital journalism. Founded as a grassroots organization in 1946, RTDNA’s mission is to promote and protect responsible journalism. RTDNA defends the First Amendment rights of electronic journalists throughout the country, honors outstanding work in the profession through the Edward R. Murrow Awards and provides members with training to encourage ethical standards, newsroom leadership and industry innovation.

 


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