The crisis at the border continues unabated, and the Biden administration has no plan to solve it. The Biden administration has just signed an $86 million contract with hotels near the border to house migrant families. Fifteen thousand unaccompanied minors have arrived and the administration does not have the facilities to house them. Perhaps the shocking part of the current moment is that it is not the typical reporters, such as Brandon Darby of Breitbart and other conservative outlets, standing alone in reporting the situation accurately. The corporate media is also calling it a crisis.
This story marks the first time that the corporate media has taken a critical tone against a Democrat policy since Barack Obama got sworn into the White House. Biden administration officials are not quite sure how to handle it, so they are trying to blame the crisis on the previous administration. That is a stretch, considering that one of Biden’s first executive actions involved dismantling the border policies put in place by the prior administration. Most major outlets are not buying this particular narrative.
This media skepticism may trace back to the Biden administration’s refusal to grant media access to the facilities at the border. Reporters criticized Press Secretary Jen Psaki late last week, noting the administration’s failure to provide the promised truth and transparency. This week nearly every major news outlet covered the situation, and a number of them were uncharacteristically critical.
ABC’s Martha Raddatz was at the border. She helped to clarify precisely why migrants were flooding the border now. It pretty much busts the Biden administration’s narrative:
ABC News: "Would you have tried to do this when Donald Trump was President?"
Illegal immigrant: "Definitely not"
ABC: "Did you come because Joe Biden was elected President?"
Illegal: "Basically, basically"
That’s the story. Trump protected our border and Joe Biden opened it. pic.twitter.com/aVVWbH4fLI
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) March 21, 2021
She also directly challenged DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the lack of transparency at border facilities. His answer about privacy concerns and the need to focus on operations would never have held water if they spoke with Trump DHS Secretary Chad Wolf. Raddatz also pointedly asked him why the president had reversed all of the Trump-era regulations without a plan in place. Mayorkas’s answer was patently insane:
We are executing the plan that we have and let me share with you. Because we will succeed. And when we look at this time, however difficult it has been, we will get through it and we will get through it successfully. What we will all say is that we worked our way through a difficult time. We administered the laws as they were intended and we lived up to our values and principles as a nation.
The law is intended not to let people enter our country illegally. Maybe Mayorkas missed that portion. The last time we had a surge of unaccompanied minors at the border was not as large as this one. According to a Senate investigation, children were placed with sponsors who put them in labor trafficking situations, mostly without any background checks. That happened during the Obama administration. Considering the pressure on facilities, it is hard to see the Biden administration adopting more rigor in the process. Speaking on a panel later in her broadcast, Raddatz called the policy tone-deaf. Another participant said Biden attempting to do a 180 on border policy with no preparation created a crisis he owns.
Raddatz was not the only one who challenged the narrative. The Washington Post reported that more than 200 border agents have been diverted to care for children rather than securing the border, and 35 cases of COVID-19 have been detected in one facility. The Post published two other articles this weekend with the headlines, “‘No end in sight’: Inside the Biden administration’s failure to contain the border surge,” and “The surge of migration presents an unexpected challenge for Biden and his team.” We can argue about how unexpected the crisis was, considering Biden’s blatant incentives during his campaign, but just acknowledging that it is a problem is a big step for Jeff Bezos and his team.
On Friday, CNN actually reported statistics regarding children on the border, including average lengths of stay in an HHS facility. Those numbers do not bode well — a record number of kids are already in custody and there are more on the way. While children taken into custody are supposed to be released within 72 hours, a child’s average stay in an appropriate HHS facility is 34 days. The math does not work with current facilities.
FEMA has been deployed to the border to build temporary shelters. CNN also noted the vast majority of these “children” are 15 and above. The same “children” often had gang ties during the 2014 crisis. These unaccompanied minors will be housed in the Dallas convention center, seemingly with no restriction on movement. Another host, New Day’s John Avlon, levied criticism at the administration for the humanitarian crisis and the press blackout.
The Hill called the situation a “five-alarm crisis on the border,” and CBS News noted that the entire system could collapse without significant action. Even MSNBC got into the action with Wille Geist blasting the Biden administration’s lack of transparency, and Yamiche Alcindor said this problem is happening on this administration’s watch. Julia Ainsley credited the Trump administration with far more clarity, and all three wondered if the centralization of media access to Washington was attempting to hide the actual situation.
Ainsley also appeared on Meet the Press to decry the lack of media access. She noted even the number of migrants crossing the border has not been made public, and reporters have to dig for it. The rest of the panel also chimed in. Peggy Noonan encouraged President Biden to admit he got it wrong, noting the press blackout and record numbers at the border are not just going to go away. Eddie Glaude added that if the administration did not anticipate this surge, it was a problem and that the messaging is not clear. Jon Ralston also agreed when host Chuck Todd asked if the current crisis could cause political problems for Biden and the Democrats.
While much of the commentary focuses on the lack of transparency, several reporters and commentators in the corporate media have levied more criticism at Democrats in power than is usual. This behavior could be a bug instead of a feature since they are well aware of the political costs of an immigration crisis. However, some had similarly critical takes on Biden’s foreign policy, especially after the train wreck in Alaska. Time will tell if these outlets maintain a bent for journalism or if they return to pure activism when the crisis recedes.