Our domestic Spanish-language newscasts have continued to further an ongoing conspiracy theory, which alleges that the United States government is responsible for the deaths of unauthorized immigrants detained along the southern border. The most recent instance comes via Univision’s newscast.
Watch as Univisión’s Luis Megid toggles between relaying factual information regarding the death of René Pérez Gordillo at El Paso, TX, and fueling racial grievance via conspiracy theory:
LUIS MEGID, CORRESPONDENT, UNIVISIÓN: The Customs and Border Protection service said, in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones...our agency remains committed to ensure...fair, humane, and dignified treatment of those who are in our custody.” In spite of their good intentions and considering the most recent deaths, border activists demand to know exactly what happened with Pérez Gordillo.
It should be noted that the tone and tenor of this report was set during its introduction by anchor Ilia Calderón, in what is a textbook instance of bias by framing. The graphic depicted in this post's featured image reads: "They keep dying." The most outrageous part of the report is that Megid clearly stated the facts of the case at the very outset, when he said:
MEGID: This is the fourth undocumented (immigrant) that dies while in custody here at El Paso in the last several months. The Border Patrol says that René Pérez Gordillo, a 40-year-old Mexican, was detained over the weekend due to a second incidence of unauthorized entry into the country. While processing him, they realized that he was sick and provided him emergency transport to a medical center where he died, apparently, of the flu and kidney failure.
The report then immediately delves into suggestions that federal law enforcement is somehow responsible for Pérez Gordillo’s death, with no plausible explanation as to how. There is no taking into account that Pérez Gordillo may have contracted the flu while en route to the United States, or the conditions that led his kidney failure. Even worse, a grieving family is exploited in furtherance of the conspiracy theory. The same thing happened not too long ago, as seen in coverage of the sad death of a seven-year-old girl who made the trek from Guatemala. By the time she got to the border it was too late, but that didn’t stop interested parties from suggesting that the U.S. government was somehow complicit in her death- and our domestic Spanish-language networks recklessly amplified that message.
The sad truth is that it is long past time for our domestic Spanish-language networks to reconsider their role in encouraging wave after wave of immigrants to continue risking their lives on an extremely dangerous trek across deserts and rivers, while at the mercy of ruthless cartels, coyotes, and other human traffickers. The fact is that there are risks involved in making this voyage. It would behoove our networks to subordinate their business interests to the greater public good (specifically as shown in this link of Jorge Ramos at Harvard, the fact that their survival depends on a steady inflow of Spanish-dominant immigrants- legal or otherwise), and accurately report on the dangers of illegal immigration to the United States.
If you won’t listen to us, then at least listen to your old pals Luis Gutiérrez and María Elena Salinas:
CONGRESSMAN LUIS GUTIÉRREZ (D-IL): The law is clear. The immen...Jorge, 95% of those children will never resolve a relief for their immigration situation. They are all in process of deportation at this time, and even after their hearing before the Court, 95% of them will be ordered to be deported. That’s why I don’t want them to come. And I join all those who say, “Children- and parents, don’t send your children here because that will solve absolutely nothing. First, the coyotes and human traffickers will abuse them, they will rape them, they will kill them, and at the end they will charge them very expensively- and in the end, who wins? Those who are in human trafficking because the children will eventually receive no help in terms of immigration.
MARíA ELENA SALINAS: We went by the ranches through which most of the undocumented cross. You can see why so many die along that way at Fanfurres, at McAllen, Texas.
JORGE RAMOS: Why? Why do they die?
SALINAS: Because they have to walk up to 35 miles to arrive at the road under terrible conditions. These are ranches with animals, snakes, the inclement weather, weariness, lack of water, and since there are checkpoints, they have to get off at a certain point and then walk or run. That’s how many die trying (to cross the border).
Below is a full transcript of the report cited above, as aired on Noticiero Univisión on Wednesday, March 20, 2019:
LUIS MEGID, CORRESPONDENT, UNIVISIÓN: This is the fourth undocumented (immigrant) that dies while in custody here at El Paso in the last several months. The Border Patrol says that René Pérez Gordillo, a 40-year-old Mexican, was detained over the weekend due to a second incidence of unauthorized entry into the country. While processing him, they realized that he was sick and provided him emergency transport to a medical center where he died, apparently, of the flu and kidney failure. His mother, in Ciudad Juárez, says that she can’t believe it.
MARTHA GORDILLO: Well, that’s the weird thing. Because I don’t believe that he had that illness, he didn’t even have the flu. Unless (unintelligible)...
MEGID: The family insists that Gordillo was healthy when he left México, and he promised that he’d come to the United States to help them out.
MARTHA PATRICIA PÉREZ: Well, I can’t explain it. If he were sick, he wouldn’t have been able to jump up. But, well, that’s what they say that supposedly happened to him.
MEGID: The Customs and Border Protection service said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones...our agency remains committed to ensure...fair, humane, and dignified treatment of those who are in our custody.” In spite of their good intentions and considering the most recent deaths, border activists demand to know exactly what happened with Pérez Gordillo.
MARIA LIMÓN GARZA, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, “HOPE” BORDER INSTITUTE: Something is broken. Something is wrong, and we have to consider what we need to do.
MEGID: In México, the family remains unconvinced and wants answers. Authorities here in the United States say that they acted quickly and did the best they could. The Border Patrol is investigating the matter.
SANDRA PÉREZ: Well I ask you to support us, to help us so he can come home as quickly as possible and (we can give him a) Christian burial.
MEGID: At the border in El Paso, Texas, Luis Megid, Univisión.