Lawmakers slam Biden, FAA on border crisis flight restriction

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Lawmakers slam Biden, FAA on border crisis flight restriction

Republican lawmakers are calling out the Federal Aviation Administration and the Biden Administration for instituting a two-week flight restriction over the city of Del Rio, Texas, effectively grounding a drone used by Fox News to document the border crisis. 

While Fox News was able to re-reveal the spiraling crisis with its aerial footage of the Del Rio International Bridge from a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter on Friday, GOP lawmakers continued to push back against the resistriction. 

“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) claimed the administration is refusing transparency around the 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,” he said in a statement.

“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.”

A Fox News drone that was documenting the area was previously grounded by the restrictions.
A Fox News drone that was documenting the area was previously grounded by the restrictions.
FoxNews/Twitter
Haitian migrants use a dam to cross to and from the United States from Mexico on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.
Haitian migrants use a dam to cross to and from the United States from Mexico on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP

Republican Texas Rep. Lance Gooden told The Post: “The American people deserve to know the extent of the crisis at the southern border, but instead of addressing it, President Biden has weaponized a government agency to hide it from them.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who was in Del Rio Thursday night, slammed the restriction as “ridiculous” and said he had “never seen anything like that.”

“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,” he said.

Initially following the order, Fox News correspondent Bill Melguin called the timing and location of the TFR to be “a little bit curious,” as the outlet has been using drones at the border for the past seven months. 

Ted Cruz in Del Rio, Texas, on the border crisis on September 16, 2021
Sen. Ted Cruz called the ruling “ridiculous.”
Twitter

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.”

This week, footage of the Del Rio bridge showed thousands of migrants crossing the Rio Grande before gathering under the bridge for shelter. 

Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano revealed on Thursday that approximately 10,503 migrants are waiting under the bridge to be processed by US border patrol while 2,000 to 3,000 are in detention “at any given moment.”

While thousands wait under the bridge, hundreds have been seen and photographed traveling back to Mexico to gather supplies such as water and food. Lozano slammed these additional crossings saying they open “the potential for a terror threat.” 

Migrants stand by the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S.
Migrants stand by the International Bridge between Mexico and the US.
Congressman Tony Gonzales via REUTERS
Migrants are seen by the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S., in Del Rio, Texas, U.S., September 16, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media.
The FAA said it made the ruling because news drones were interfering with “law enforcement flights” near the southern border.
Congressman Tony Gonzales via REUTERS

The influx of migrants comes the same week that border officials confirmed they encountered 208,887 migrants at the southwestern frontier last month. August marks the first time that more than 200,000 migrant encounters have been recorded in consecutive months since February and March of 2000 (211,328 and 220,063 respectively).

So far this year, officials have stopped 1,323,597 illegal immigrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border.

To help mitigate the influx of illegal migrants, the Biden administration deported nearly 1 million people 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. Sullivan’s ruling does not prohibit the Biden administration from citing Title 42 to expel single adults.

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