Republican senators say a Biden official urged them to delete photos they took of an overcrowded migrant facility they toured at the southern border on Friday.
Sen. Ted Cruz and 18 of his GOP colleagues inspected a shelter in Donna, Texas, which is at more than 700 percent capacity amid a surge of illegal crossings into the United States.
Indiana Sen. Mike Braun told The Washington Examiner that the direction came from a Biden aide who accompanied the group on the tour.
‘There was one of Biden’s representatives. I felt sorry for the lady because she actually talked to me about deleting a picture, but by the time she got to me, all those other pictures were taken, and that shows you the hypocrisy,’ Braun said Saturday.
He added that Border Patrol officials inside the shelter also urged the Republicans not to snap any images.
‘They were telling us that because they had to,’ Braun claimed.
Despite promising ‘transparency’, Biden officials have refused to let journalists into the overcrowded Donna facility – as criticism surrounding the border crisis continues to grow.
However, the Republicans refused to abide by the requests, instead sharing their images to social media.
‘None of us would have gone down there if we were going to be muzzled,’ Braun claimed.
Republican senators say Biden officials urged them to delete photos they took of an overcrowded migrant facility they toured at the southern border on Friday. Members of the group are seen in Texas on Friday
The Republicans refused to abide by the requests, instead sharing their images to social media.
Despite promising ‘transparency’, Biden officials have refused to let journalists into the overcrowded Donna facility – particularly as criticism surrounding the border crisis continues to grow
The senators said that ‘pods’ at Donna designed to hold 80 children are packed with more than 700
Ted Cruz tweeted photos from his tour of an overcrowded shelter for migrant teens in Donna, Texas; he toured the shelter with fellow Republican senators
Cruz posted another pic from his tour; he’s blasted the Biden administration for its border policy, saying it’s led to a surge in migrants
Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma and others shared heartbreaking images of a severely overcrowded holding facility in Donna, Texas, where Lankford said that ‘pods’ designed to hold 80 children are packed with more than 700.
‘I know why President Biden doesn’t want the media to be here – because we do have an open border,’Lankford stated on Friday.
‘If you were an unaccompanied minor, you were sent over to the Donna facility, which we went over and visited. That facility is designed for 80 people in a pod, and they had 709 people… literally wall to wall in every one of the little plexiglass cells that they have, and people flooding out into the hallway,’ Lankford said.
On Thursday alone, approximately 6,000 adults and children were apprehended along the southern border, according to a senior official – far more than during the busiest months of the Trump administration in 2019.
Biden has insisted that his policies are not responsible for the huge surge of illegal crossings at the border, and said that he is planning to open huge new facilities to house and process migrants.
‘I’ve been working from the moment this started to happen to try to find additional access for children to be able to safely — not just children, but particularly children — to be able to safely be housed while we follow through on the rest of what’s happening,’ Biden said at a press conference on Thursday.
‘That facility is designed for 80 people in a pod, and they had 709 people… literally wall to wall in every one of the little plexiglass cells that they have, and people flooding out into the hallway,’ Senator Lankford said
The Biden administration has not let reporters in the facility in Donna, Texas, but has let in lawmakers like Ted Cruz, who shared images such as the one above of children being held there
But Cruz and the other Republicans slammed conditions at the Donna facility as ‘inhumane’ and said the crisis would not end without stronger enforcement at the border and swift removal of those who cross illegally.
‘All of us today witnessed the Biden cages. What is occurring here on the border is heartbreaking, and it is a tragedy,’ Cruz said.
‘The Biden administration is taking people who are testing positive for COVID-19 and locking them in cages side by side. This is inhumane,’ Cruz said.
‘There was no six foot space, there was no three foot space, there wasn’t even a three inch space between children lined up one, after the other, after the other.’
Cruz said that 10 percent of the current population of the Donna facility currently tests positive for COVID-19.
‘It is wrong, and it is the direct consequence of policy decisions by the Biden administration to stop building the wall, to return to catch-and-release and to end the stay in Mexico policy.’
Cruz said that the Biden administration had rejected his request to allow press representatives to accompany the delegation in the Donna facility – and pointed out that both the Trump and Obama administrations had allowed such media access.
‘The Biden administration wants to hide what is going on here,’ Cruz said. ‘The American people have a right to know what is happening here.’
‘This is a man-made crisis. It was avoidable, it was preventable, and regardless of your party if you’re a Republican or a Democrat you should look at what is going on here and say enough is enough, this must stop,’ he added.
The White House has said media will be allowed into facilities being run by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol but has not said when. A TV camera crew was allowed in a different facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, where children are being held in better conditions.
‘I will commit to transparency, and – as soon as I am in a position to be able to implement what we are doing right now,’ Biden said Thursday. Asked when that would be, he responded: ‘I don’t know, to be clear.’
Illegal border crossing is on pace to surpass recent records and could reach a 20 year high, officials said
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (red shirt) stand aboard a Texas Department of Public Safety boat for a tour of part of the Rio Grande on Friday. Local agencies such as DPS are assisting overwhelmed Border Patrol
On Thursday night, Cruz posted videos showing him on the bank of the Rio Grande in the dark, surrounded by tall grass or weeds, watching what he claims were smugglers trying to get migrants across the water and into the U.S.
The 19 Republican Senators on Tour
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
‘That’s Mexico right over there, and you can see there are three smugglers right there,’ Cruz is heard saying in the video, ‘standing on the Mexico side looking at us.’
He also said those smugglers were taunting the senators on the U.S. side. The footage is hard to see, showing grass and the dark river with a few flashes of light. Cruz said those were the smugglers’ flashlights.
He posted another dramatic video, describing it as ‘live footage from the banks of the Rio Grande,’ that showed him standing on the river’s edge, giving a report on what he and the Republicans saw on their midnight march.
‘So it’s past midnight and I’m standing on the shore of the Rio Grande, the water is right behind me down. I’m down on the Texas border along with 18 senators, we made the trip to see the crisis that is playing out,’ Cruz said as he stood in the weeds on the shoreline.
Dogs could be heard barking in the background as he spoke.
‘On the other side of the river is Mexico,’ Cruz noted. ‘The other side of the river we have been listening to and seeing cartel members, human traffickers right on the other side of the river, waving flashlights yelling and taunting Americans, taunting the Border Patrol, because they know that under the current policy the Biden administration, they can flood over here.’
Cruz was joined by fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Maine Senator Susan Collins, and others in his travels.
Cornyn posted a photo of the group of lawmakers after their tour, writing ‘Before we began our full day of touring critical areas around the southern border, the Senators I brought down to Texas wanted to thank the @CBPRGV midnight patrol for all the hard work they are doing to keep our nation safe amidst this crisis.’
And the Senate Republicans official Twitter account posted photos and an update from the expedition: ‘1:00AM on our southern border. 18 Senators are here with Border Patrol on their night shift. We saw the massive influx of migrant crossings. Countless women + children. We were heckled by cartels. This is a humanitarian crisis. And Joe Biden needs to address it immediately.’
Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman who lives in El Paso and lost his bid to unseat Cruz, retweeted it with a mocking reply: ‘THANK GOD YOU SURVIVED THE HECKLING!’
Democrats, who have blamed the Trump administration for problems at the border, blasted the trip as a ‘political stunt.’
‘In a desperate attempt to mislead the country, world-renowned political clown Ted Cruz and his hapless sidekick John Cornyn are bringing their show on the road with their latest political stunt,’ the Democratic National Committee said in a statement on Friday.
‘If there’s one thing Ted Cruz knows how to do, it is to disingenuously grandstand for TV cameras. President Biden took more action to address immigration issues in one day than Senate Republicans have in the last four years. If Senator Cruz and his colleagues were serious, they’d be in Washington working with President Biden to be a part of the solution,’ said DNC spokesperson Eduardo Silva.