U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Border Report correspondent detained photographing outside Texas Air Force base

Incident Details

September 19, 2021

Border Report correspondent Sandra Sanchez was detained for 45 minutes and threatened with arrest by Laughlin Air Force Base military police in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19, 2021.

Sanchez was photographing Laughlin Air Force Base signs outside the base’s gates while reporting on the Del Rio encampment, where more than 12,000 Haitian migrants seeking asylum had settled along the banks of the Rio Grande while waiting to cross into the United States from Mexico.

The day before, Department of Homeland Security officials had announced during a press conference that deportation flights carrying Haitian migrants would be departing from the Laughlin base’s airfields, which is located just east of the Del Rio border.

When asked for comment, Sanchez referred the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker to a Border Report blog detailing the incident. According to the post, Sanchez was not on the base when she took still photos and a short video of the military base sign when military police detained her, claiming she had illegally entered federal property.

Border Report stated there were no signs indicating where public property ended and the military base began. According to the blog, military police claimed base property extends north of the gates she was photographing.

A Val Verde County deputy sheriff was called to the base while Sanchez was being held but military police refused to release her. The deputy sheriff did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.

Before releasing her without charges, military police required that they witness her delete the photos and video of the base, the blog said.

Laughlin Air Force Base Public Affairs office did not respond to requests for comment by the Tracker.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].