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FAA downs Fox News drone showing ‘out of control’ border crisis, cites ‘special security reasons’

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With a crisis involving thousands of illegal immigrants quickly spiraling out of control, the Federal Aviation Administration under President Biden has taken steps to limit media coverage of an event that’s embarrassing to the administration.

That’s according to Fox News reporter Bill Melugin, who has been reporting from the wide-open southern border with Mexico for months.

Melugin reported on the sudden development on Twitter and appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” telling host Tucker Carlson that the FAA issued a two-week temporary flight restriction on flying drones with cameras over the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas. This being the site where more than 10,000 migrants who’ve entered the United States illegally are waiting on the highly overwhelmed Border Patrol to “apprehend” them — a number that is growing daily by the thousands, according to the reporter.

“They are free to go, they are not being detained,” Melugin said. “They are just holding themselves under this bridge waiting to be apprehended by Border Patrol.”

He said many of the migrants are from Haiti, and there are also some from Cuba and Venezuela, reporting that it’s a “horrible situation” and that the numbers swelled from around 4,000 to 10,000 overnight and it is “getting worse by the day, literally by the hour.”

(Video: Fox News)

“We want to point out something. We have been using our drone to show everybody these remarkable pictures. You can see the video we got on the ground from some sources who are leaking stuff to us, as well,” he added. “We just learned that the FAA has put out a temporary flight restriction, a TFR, in the area immediately around the port of entry where that bridge is.”

“What does that mean? It means our drone can no longer fly and show those images,” Melugin said. “It’s a two-week TFR, and according to the FAA, it is for special security reasons. We have reached out to the FAA to get a little clarification on what the heck that means. The timing on this, the location, a little bit curious.”

He stressed that Fox News has been reporting from the border for the better part of seven months and has been using the drone “the entire time.”

“It has never been an issue. All of a sudden, the last 24-hours, we start showing these images at this bridge and a TFR goes up [and] we can no longer fly,” he told Carlson. “When we can update from the FAA we’ll be sure to let you know but unfortunately for those agents on the ground, they are completely overwhelmed. They need some serious help right now and hopefully, they get it from the federal government.”

“That’s the first I’m hearing of this,” Carlson replied. “I sincerely — I haven’t talked to lawyers about it — I sincerely hope our company will ignore the FAA. They have no right to shut down newsgathering. They don’t own the news.”

Following his appearance on the show, Melugin said in a tweet that the FAA released the following statement: “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.”

Prior to the Fox News drone being downed, Melugin filed this report on Twitter:

Social media was quick to respond to his tweet on the FAA restriction, including a tweet from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

Here’s a quick sampling of those responses from Twitter:

Tom Tillison

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