Oklahoma Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine is calling on members of the media to reject the limitations the government is placing on their coverage of facilities housing unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors.
In a press release Monday, Bridenstine highlighted a recent invitation from Health and Human Services to members of the media to tour the unaccompanied minor housing facility at Fort Sill, Oklahoma on July 10.
The invitation said “[i]n order to protect the safety and privacy of the children,” members of the media may not bring recording devices, be allowed to ask questions during the tour, or interact with the staff and children. The facility will provide photos to the reporters after the tour and any questions after the tour will be directed to HHS Administration for Children and Families spokesman Kenneth Wolfe.
According to Bridenstine — who was recently prevented from an impromptu visit at the Fort Sill facility — the restrictions are unacceptable.
“The idea of no recording devices, no questions, and no interactions is not acceptable. This violates the 1st Amendment,” he said. “This is not transparent. HHS is trying to muzzle the media and hide the human tragedy that has resulted directly from the Administration’s failure to enforce the law.”
Bridenstine’s office noted that he “is encouraging members of the media to reject the limitations proposed by HHS.”
The Oklahoma congressman announced earlier in the day that he would be visiting the facility in a planned tour on July 12. He added that he plans to make unannounced visits to the facility in the future.