House GOP to Investigate FAA Drone Ban Over Texas Bridge Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen at an encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande in Texas on Tuesday (AP)
By Theodore Bunker | Tuesday, 21 September 2021 05:04 PM
Republicans in the House are calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to answer questions about a recent order banning flights, including drones, over a bridge in Texas that has offered cover for thousands of migrants and many migrant camps.
Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer and other GOP members of the House Oversight Committee wrote a letter, which was first obtained by The Washington Times, claiming that this ban was “totally devoid” of justification; they accused the FAA of attempting to protect the Biden administration, which Republicans have accused of bungling an immigration surge at the southern border with Mexico since taking power in January.
“Using government resources to conduct such blatant censorship is exactly the kind of abuse of power that must be rooted out of our government — to say nothing to the basic lack of transparency,” they wrote.
The FAA said in a statement after issuing the ban that “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.”
The agency said that the order came after a request from the U.S. Border Patrol, and that the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Defense could destroy any drones that break the order.
The FAA granted Fox News clearance to fly camera drones above the bridge on Friday, the day after the ban was instituted, saying on Twitter that the network had applied for it.
Fox News “applied this morning and has received clearance to operate from now until the end of September in the restricted airspace linked below,” the agency tweeted last week, along with a link for other media outlets to apply for clearance.
The ban, which was put in place on Thursday, is set to expire at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, thousands of immigrants, mostly Haitians coming in from Mexico, have continued to flood the Del Rio, Texas, area. The Biden administration has begun sending many back to Haiti, which they'd fled over recent quake conditions and political turnmoil. Mexico is also turning them back from the border.
Haitian migrants seeking to escape poverty, hunger and a feeling of hopelessness in their home country said they will not be deterred by U.S. plans to speedily send them back, as thousands of people remained encamped on the Texas border Saturday after crossing from Mexico.
Scores of people waded back and forth across the Rio Grande on Saturday afternoon, re-entering Mexico to purchase water, food and diapers in Ciudad Acuña before returning to the Texas encampment under and near a bridge in the border city of Del Rio.
The city of 35,000 people, situated roughly 145 miles (230 kilometers) west of San Antonio, is along a remote stretch of border that lacks capacity to hold and process such large numbers of people.