The Federal Aviation Administration has placed a temporary flight restriction over the Texas bridge sheltering a swelling mass of migrants along the southern border.
The two-week temporary flight restrictions, which Fox News reported late Thursday, bar news outlets from flying drones over the bridge to document the unprecedented surge of migrants amid relaxed border enforcement under the Biden administration.
“The Border Patrol requested the temporary flight restriction due to drones interfering with law enforcement flights on the border,” the FAA said in a statement Thursday evening. “As with any temporary flight restriction, [the media are] able to call the FAA to make requests to operate in the area.”
The restrictions, which cover a two-nautical-mile radius, apply specifically to unmanned aircraft systems operating up to 1,000 feet above ground level, according to the FAA notice to airmen (NOTAM) published Thursday. The NOTAM does not restrict manned aircraft from operating in the area.
The number of migrants under the bridge more than doubled this week, reaching 9,145 people on Thursday, according to one law enforcement source. Most of the migrants are Haitian, but some Venezuelans and Cubans are also present.
Overwhelmed with the flood of migrants crossing the border, the Border Patrol says it has nowhere to shelter them. The bridge has become “a temporary staging site” to protect the unhoused migrants from the heat.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, called the FAA ban “ridiculous.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity late Thursday. “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.”
“So now the FAA is saying: ‘Please, no journalists allowed,’” Mr. Cruz said.
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, called on the FAA to explain.
“What a coincidence,” Mr. Cotton tweeted Thursday. “The FAA better be ready to explain to Congress why they’re suddenly blocking the media from covering Biden’s border crisis.”
Mr. Cruz called the situation at the bridge a “man-made crisis.” He said the recent surge is a direct result of President Biden’s decision to cease deportation flights to Haiti.
Local officials have pleaded for assistance from the federal government. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that CBP had asked him to help shut down the ports of entry to try to block newcomers. Mr. Abbott said the agency then reversed itself within six hours.
Local officials have pleaded for assistance from the federal government to handle the crisis, and Mr. Abbott was withering in his criticism.
“The Biden administration is in complete disarray and is handling the border crisis as badly as the evacuation from Afghanistan,” he said. “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.”