Telemundo Up in Arms Over 'Kids Prison'

If providing temporary shelter, food, education, recreation and medical attention to children crossing the U.S. border illegally is flippantly called “prison” and “destroying the lives of children”, then what term should be used to describe the unlawful act of sending minors – including many unaccompanied –  in the first place on a thousand-mile long journey during which by definition their lives are endangered and indeed for not a few ends in their deaths?

That is just one angle that Telemundo totally ignored while reporting on the Casa Padre holding facilities in Brownsville, Texas, where some 1,500 minors who arrived unlawfully in the United States are temporarily living pending reunification with family members or foster caretakers.

Instead, Telemundo chose to portray the facility as the moral equivalent of a concentration camp, featuring activists predictably blaming President Trump for “destroying the lives of children” as well as essentially advocating for open borders.

JUAN JOSÉ GUTIÉRREZ, COALITION FOR THE RIGHTS OF IMMIGRANTS: Well, let’s imagine the mentality of this President, that to win a war, he thinks that first you have to destroy the lives of the children, of the little ones.

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ALAIN CISNEROS, FIEL ORGANIZATION: It is not enough that these children have a roof, a bed, a meal, an activity, an education: the best place for these children is that they should be with the families.

The report followed a visit to the facility by journalists, including Telemundo correspondent María Paula Ochoa, who like many seized upon an odd mural of President Trump that appears on one of the walls of Casa Padre, which is run by Southwest Key Programs as part of a lucrative federal contract.

While the facility's murals of other U.S. Presidents contain unmistakably upbeat, inspirational presidential quotes, the mural featuring President Trump quotes him saying “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” The quote not only appears to be out of place in that setting, but lends itself to being taken out of context. So much so that one wonders whether it might be a deliberate effort to make the President look bad, done by a federal contractor with the approval of federal government officials, no less.

The interpretation of the facility's Trump mural that is provided by activist Juan José Gutiérrez is so out of context as to be laughable, but it is the kind of news fare that is actually consistently - and seriously - offered to Telemundo viewers. For his part, apparently no amount of decent care is enough for activist Alain Cisneros, who illogically insists that minors should always be with their parents, no matter that the parents have broken the law.

The Telemundo report also failed to note that only 5% to 10% of the approximately 1,500 youth at Casa Padre are minors who were separated from their families.

Below is a complete transcript of the above referenced report as it aired on June 14, 2018 on Noticias Telemundo.

JOSÉ DÍAZ-BALART, ANCHOR, NOTICIAS TELEMUNDO: In the United States, various journalists were able to visit a juvenile detention center. They assure it's the closest thing there is to a prison. There almost 1500 undocumented children spend at least 22 hours a day locked up without being able to go outdoors. María Paula Ochoa has more.

MARÍA PAULA OCHOA, CORRESPONDENT, NOTICIAS TELEMUNDO: Playing, watching television or studying: that is the image offered by the authorities of the 1500 undocumented minors in government custody at a shelter in Texas. A vision in radical contrast to that of reporters who visited the facilities.

JACOB SOBOROFF, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I´ve been in federal prisons before…

MARÍA PAULA OCHOA (translating Soboroff): I've been in federal prisons before and these kids are incarcerated. They can walk freely around the place, but they can only go out in the sun for two hours a day.

The shelter, which used to be a department store, was repurposed to include bedrooms for five children. At the entrance a mural of President Trump says, "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war."

JUAN JOSÉ GUTIÉRREZ, COALITION FOR THE RIGHTS OF IMMIGRANTS: Well, let´s imagine the mentality of this President, that to win a war, he thinks that first you have to destroy the lives of the children, of the little ones.

MARIA PAULA OCHOA: The minors who are in the shelter are young people who were detained crossing the border alone or separated from their parents, as indicated by the new immigration policy.

JEFF SESSIONS, SECRETARY OF JUSTICE: They’re provided food…

MARÍA PAULA OCHOA (translating Sessions): They're being cared for in a decent way. They are provided with food, education in their language and health care. But activists think they are in a golden cage.

ALAIN CISNEROS, FIEL ORGANIZATION: It is not enough that these children have a roof, a bed, a meal, an activity, an education: the best place for these children is that they should be with the families.

MARÍA PAULA OCHOA: The policy of zero tolerance and the increase in the detention of unaccompanied minors have saturated this type of shelter. And in search of alternatives, the government will open one in the port of entrance in Tornillo, Texas, where the children will be in tents. María Paula Ochoa, Telemundo News.

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