News Gathering | Press Access

BuzzFeed News Demands Access To Texas Detention Facility On First Amendment Grounds

BuzzFeed News sent a letter sent to the Chief Counsel of U.S. Customs and Border Protection requesting access to a centralized processing center in McAllen, Texas for a previously scheduled tour after a reporter’s request for attendance was rejected.  The letter said that the delegation of tour attendees had agreed to include the reporter, and questioned why the CBP stated that they may not be able to accommodate media.

Nabiha Syed, Buzzfeed’s Vice President and Associate General Counsel, cited a number of cases supporting their claim for equal access in the letter and called the denial of access “arbitrary and capricious.”

“CBP fails to provide any reason– compelling or otherwise– why excluding BuzzFeed News is necessary. This flagrantly ignores the protections for newsgathering found in the First Amendment…,” she wrote.

CNN notes that other reporters have been trying to gain access to detention centers and have been unsuccessful, leading to a lack of images and reporting from the inside. The Associated Press reported that U.S. Border Patrol allowed reporters to briefly visit a McAllen facility on Sunday, but reporters were not allowed to interview any of the detainees or take photos.

CNN Money The Associated Press