Stunning helicopter footage shot Friday shows hundreds of illegal immigrants streaming into Texas from Mexico across the Rio Grande — with no intervention from authorities on either side of the border.
One day after the Federal Aviation Administration prevented Fox News from using a drone to capture images of thousands of illegal immigrants sheltering under the Texas bridge, the outlet is now able to capture aerial footage from a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter.
On Thursday, the FAA instituted a two-week flight restriction over the city of Del Rio, Texas, that has seen over 10,000 illegal immigrants sheltering under the Del Rio International Bridge as they wait to be processed by the Border Patrol.
Fox News correspondent Bill Melugin called the timing and location of the restriction “a little bit curious,” as the outlet has been using drones at the border for the past seven months.
In a statement, the FAA said, “the Border Patrol requested the temporary flight restriction due to drones interfering with law enforcement flights on the border. As with any temporary flight restriction, media is able to call the FAA to make requests to operate in the area.”
On Friday, Melugin was seen in a DPS helicopter with a Fox News camera that showed streams of illegal immigrants crossing the Rio Grande as thousands grouped together under the bridge for shelter.
Melugin pointed to the International Bridge, noting little traffic crossing, calling it “pretty bizarre” to see “a constant stream of people crossing illegally right beneath it.”
As of Thursday night, Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano said there were 10,503 migrants under the bridge, with anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 being detained at any given time. Lozano made it clear that none of the people under the bridge have been detained by Border Patrol.
While thousands wait under the bridge, hundreds of people have been seen going back and forth across the Rio Grande to Mexico to gather more supplies they have been unable to get in Texas. Images show illegal immigrants carrying water, food and other provisions across the river.
Some migrants have been told they could be stuck at the camp for up to five days, according to Reuters.
The majority of the illegal immigrants hail from Haiti, while others are reportedly coming from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
The influx of unlawful crossings comes days after border officials confirmed they had encountered 208,887 migrants at the southwestern frontier in August.
Last month marks the first time that more than 200,000 illegal immigrant encounters have been recorded in consecutive months since February and March 2000 (211,328 and 220,063, respectively).
Officials have stopped 1,323,597 illegal immigrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border so far this year.
It is unclear how many more people will cross the river to wait under the bridge, but Customs and Border Protection will be increasing manpower in the area. As Fox News aired footage of the area on Friday, Melugin estimated hundreds were crossing the river, adding to the thousands already there.
Several members of Congress have slammed the FAA’s restriction, backing the media’s ability to freely and accurately report on the situation.
“I’m in contact with @FAANews working to ensure @FoxNews and other media drones are quickly given the necessary approvals to safely access TFR airspace at the border,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) tweeted on Friday. “FAA must approve media drone authorizations ASAP so a free press can report on the #bordercrisis.”
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) accused the administration of trying to hide the spiraling crisis at the border.
“We know what they’re doing and they are not getting away with it. Restricting and blocking the media’s drones over the Del Rio bridge proves that the Administration is fully aware of the crisis they have created,” Biggs said.
“This refusal to be transparent is yet another way the Biden Administration is trying to twist the true narrative of what is happening at the border. With or without media access, we will not stop working to expose the truth about this humanitarian and national security crisis.”
The Biden administration has attempted to mitigate the influx by deporting migrants under the CDC’s Title 42 health order related to COVID-19. However, on Thursday, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the US can no longer cite the order to deport migrant families. The CDC’s COVID-19 order led to nearly 1 million people being deported.
Sullivan’s ruling does not prohibit the Biden administration from citing Title 42 to expel single adults.