Getty photographer John Moore writing in WaPo, of how he was able to cover border control encounters with migrants under President Donald Trump, but not so under Biden.
For the past four presidential administrations, I have accompanied U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and photographed their encounters with migrants as they enforced immigration policy. No longer. Last week, when I documented migrant detentions in El Paso, I had to do so from the Mexican side of the border, taking long-range shots. Until now, journalists haven’t had to stand in another country to cover what is happening in the United States.
Most asylum seekers cross the Rio Grande into South Texas on land controlled by federal agents. For decades, the U.S. government has let journalists accompany Border Patrol agents and other officials as they surveil the land. But since the change in administration, those agents have been physically blocking journalists from the riverbank. For example, after being turned down for official access on a trip in February, I followed a Border Patrol transport bus in my own vehicle to where agents were detaining migrants. They stopped me before I got close enough to take pictures. They called a supervisor, and ordered me to leave immediately.
We have gone from the Trump-era “zero tolerance” policy toward immigrants to a Biden-era “zero access” policy for journalists covering immigration. This development is unprecedented in modern history. (While the Trump administration reduced access somewhat when the pandemic began, for defensible reasons of safety, the Biden administration has gone much further and eliminated it altogether.) [“I’m a photojournalist. Why is the administration banning me from border facilities?“]
I respectfully ask the White House to stop the media border ban. I took these photos of migrants walking up from the border. I was later removed by local law enforcement, saying they were under orders from US Customs and Border Protection. #gettyimages #mediaborderban pic.twitter.com/5Kbax8VU3w
— John Moore (@jbmoorephoto) March 25, 2021