The surge in immigrant children crossing the southern border in Texas includes a new threat facing Border Patrol agents: reporters, the Associated Press reports. An assistant chief patrol agent, Eligio “Lee” Pena, warned 3,000 Border Patrol agents that journalists looking for information about what President Obama has described as a humanitarian crisis are likely to ask for information and “may try to disguise themselves.” The email said agents should not speak to reporters, on or off duty, without advance permission and warned that anyone who does could be charged with a crime or disciplined.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said, “I am not a fan of telling people not to talk.” Kerlikowske, who has pledged greater transparency since taking over the agency this year, did not formally disavow the directive but added that agents should be focused on their jobs while on duty. Pena’s email was issued as national news organizations descended on the border to cover the immigration surge, especially children crossing the border alone from Central America. More than 47,000 children traveling alone have been found at the border since the start of the budget year in October.