Border Patrol Memo Warns Agents not to Talk to Journalists

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Eligio Pena (photo: Theresa Scarborough, New York Times)

Confronted with the high-profile problem of immigrant children flooding into the United States, Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas have been warned not to speak to members of the media.


An internal memo written by Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Eligio “Lee” Peña obtained by the Associated Press revealed the new policy that directs agents not to talk to reporters at any time, on duty or off. Those who do risk being disciplined or even charged with a crime.


Peña warned that journalists “may try to disguise themselves” in order to trick agents into talking about the recent wave of immigrant children surging into the country.


When asked about the policy, Gil Kerlikowske, head of the Border Patrol’s parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, denied having any knowledge of the policy. “I am not a fan of telling people not to talk,” Kerlikowske said, according to AP.


Media outlets have dispatched a large contingent of reporters to the border to cover the story of how more than 47,000 children, mostly from Central American nations, have been found trying to enter the U.S. since October.


The sudden increase in youthful immigrants is “being driven in large part by the perception they will be allowed to stay under the Obama administration’s immigration policies,” The Washington Post reported. The administration is now trying to combat those rumors with a media campaign in Guatemala, warning parents not to send their children north.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Border Agents in Texas Warned Not to Talk to Media (by Christopher Sherman and Alicia Caldwell, Associated Press)

Influx of Minors Across Texas Border Driven by Belief That They Will be Allowed to Stay in U.S. (by David Nakamura, Washington Post)


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