Surprise: ‘CBS Evening News’ Puts Aside Nonsense to Cover Border Crisis

After the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell debuted with two nights of rampant liberal bias on a number of fronts, Wednesday’s installment included a rare reprieve with substantive, snark-free coverage of the illegal immigration crisis at the border (compared to what we usually see) and another example of how, even in the liberal media, broken clocks can occasionally be right.

O’Donnell began what will be at least two days of coverage on the border by setting the scene as CBS News was given exclusive access “inside the largest migrant processing facility in the country” and the first time cameras were allowed in period (click “expand”):

We are here tonight at the very heart of the immigration crisis and saw images that would break the heart of any parent. CBS News cameras were allowed exclusively inside the largest migrant processing facility in the country. It's all right here along the southern border. We have seen still photographs of it before, but that is like nothing like witnessing in person young children lying on the floor on Mylar blankets and looking into their eyes and wondering what they're thinking as their lives are in limbo. We also talked to Border Patrol agents trying to do the best job they can and in an exclusive interview, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security told us what more needs to be done, and he pointed a finger at Congress.

No use of the word “concentration camps?” Watch out, CBS! One better hope “The Squad” doesn’t watch the show!

 

 

O’Donnell first showed her interview with former Venezuelan journalist “Angelina Estrada and her two-year-old son Martin,” who are “just one of the 815 families” inside the 77,000 square foot Ursula immigration processing center. Estrada told O’Donnell that she was being treated well (click “expand”):

O’DONNELL: We begin tonight inside the Ursula migrant processing facility with a woman and her young son who recently crossed into the U.S. illegally in search of a safer and better life. [TO ESTRADA] Where are you from? 

ANGELINA ESTRADA: Venezuela. 

O’DONNELL: Venezuela? 

ESTRADA [TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]: Yes. I was in Reynosa almost three months listening to the gunshots. It was terrible.

O’DONNELL: You traveled the whole way with your son?

ESTRADA [TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]: Alone.

O’DONNELL: Si. Sola. 

ESTRADA [CRYING]: They left us alone in the jungle. I had to walk so much. It was terrible but I had to do it for my son.

O’DONNELL: A lot of walking? Yeah. A lot of walking.

[ESTRADA SOBBING]

O’DONNELL: Angelina Estrada and her two-year-old son Martin is just one of the 815 families here. A journalist who says she was threatened by the Venezuelan government and knows the law that, as a mother with a child, she will be allowed to enter the United States. [TO ESTRADA] Are you getting warm food? 

ESTRADA: Si, si. [TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH] Yes, it’s all good. Everything. Everything. We’re getting diapers.

O’DONNELL: But you're sleeping on the floor? 

ESTRADA Si, si. [TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH] On these mats.

McAleenan and chief border patrol agent Carmen Qualia joined O’Donnell on her tour, emphasizing that nothing was altered for her visit, that cameras had never been allowed inside Ursula before, and that there were no restrictions on who O’Donnell could speak to or where on the property she could go.

After McAleenan told O’Donnell that he wanted “to be transparent about what we're facing...and make sure that our Congress knows what we need to help us address this crisis,” CBS aired McAleenan explaining why that is as well as O’Donnell noting that a expanding facility was directly due to the funding bill Congress passed last month (click “expand”):

 

 

O’DONNELL: The conditions for families there are much different than at the McAllen Border Patrol Station for adults where Vice President Mike Pence visited last week. [TO MCALEENAN] We're here at the McAllen border station. It's the busiest there is, right? 

MCALEENAN: Right. 

O’DONNELL [TO MCALEENAN]: How is it that they just got shower units last week? 

MCALEENAN: So that's been the result of lack of funding to provide all the services we’d like to provide. We prioritize children, obviously. We prioritize families second. And single adults are the third to get that kind of humanitarian support. 

O’DONNELL [TO MCALEENAN]: So you're blaming some of the past conditions on Congress's lack of funding? 

MCALEENAN: It's been a critical issue. 

O’DONNELL: McAleenan says the solution is a so-called tent city named “Donna” which is expanding. He says it's far better suited to house new migrants. 

MCALEENAN: It provides a lot more capacity. The big change of the overcrowding is people are uncomfortable because there are too many in small areas. We’re going to be able to reduce that. 

O’DONNELL: And those facilities possible because of the $4.6 billion supplemental that was approved. 

O’Donnell then tossed to correspondent Mireya Villarreal, who reported that “the wait” for asylum “is getting worse, partially because the U.S. government has ramped up their metering efforts” in which “U.S. Customs agents at this bridge and other legal ports of entry force asylum seekers to turn back around, go back into Mexico, put their name on a list, and then wait there until they're called.”

“Right now, there are about 19,000 people waiting to request asylum in Mexico. To add to that, Norah, we also know there are over 325,000 pending applications filed here in the U.S.,” she added.

Again, more reporting without spin or name-calling of the Trump administration. How refreshing! It was — dare I say it — real news!

Before moving onto other news, O’Donnell plugged their Thursday coverage, which will feature more with McAleenan plus interviews with Border Patrol agents about what they’re facing plus “a federal shelter for migrant children, including infants and toddlers who entered the country without their parents.”

To close out the show, O’Donnell offered a commentary on the border “crisis,” including how she met a border patrol agent who immigrated to American legally (click “expand”):

A final note from here on the border: It's important to remember that every picture has a story, like the Border Patrol agent born in Mexico. Agent Eduardo Cantu understands the American dream, because he says he’s living it. He wants migrants to get that dream, but he says they need to come here legally as he did. When we walked into the detention center, you couldn't help but notice the sound of children laughing and playing, moms with their children attached to their hips, unsure of their future. It's hard to look away. There's no doubt there's a crisis, and today we met those at the center of it. 

To see the relevant transcript from July 17's CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, click “expand.”

CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell
July 17, 2019
6:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: CBS News Exclusive: A Look Inside]

NORAH O’DONNELL: Tonight from our southern border, CBS News exclusives. A rare look inside the largest holding facility for migrants. [TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT] Did you travel the whole way with your son? 

[WOMAN CRIES]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: CBS News Exclusive; Resolving the Crisis]

O’DONNELL: The acting Homeland Security Secretary tells us how the crisis could be resolved. 

KEVIN MCALEENAN: Congress could fix it very simply. 

O’DONNELL: And the border bottleneck that drives migrants to enter the U.S. illegally. 

(....)

6:31 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: CBS News Exclusive]

O’DONNELL: We are here tonight at the very heart of the immigration crisis and saw images that would break the heart of any parent. CBS News cameras were allowed exclusively inside the largest migrant processing facility in the country. It's all right here along the southern border. We have seen still photographs of it before, but that is like nothing like witnessing in person young children lying on the floor on Mylar blankets and looking into their eyes and wondering what they're thinking as their lives are in limbo. We also talked to Border Patrol agents trying to do the best job they can and in an exclusive interview, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security told us what more needs to be done, and he pointed a finger at congress. We begin tonight inside the Ursula migrant processing facility with a woman and her young son who recently crossed into the U.S. illegally in search of a safer and better life. [TO ESTRADA] Where are you from? 

ANGELINA ESTRADA: Venezuela. 

O’DONNELL: Venezuela? 

ESTRADA [TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]: Yes. I was in Reynosa almost three months listening to the gunshots. It was terrible.

O’DONNELL: You traveled the whole way with your son?

ESTRADA [TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]: Alone.

O’DONNELL: Si. Sola. 

ESTRADA [CRYING]: They left us alone in the jungle. I had to walk so much. It was terrible but I had to do it for my son.

O’DONNELL: A lot of walking? Yeah. A lot of walking.

[ESTRADA SOBBING]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Only on CBS News; Exclusive: Inside Largest Migrant Processing Center]

O’DONNELL: Angelina Estrada and her two-year-old son Martin is just one of the 815 families here. A journalist who says she was threatened by the Venezuelan government and knows the law that, as a mother with a child, she will be allowed to enter the United States. [TO ESTRADA] Are you getting warm food? 

ESTRADA: Si, si. [TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH] Yes, it’s all good. Everything. Everything. We’re getting diapers.

O’DONNELL: But you're sleeping on the floor? 

ESTRADA Si, si. [TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH] On these mats.

O’DONNELL: It's extraordinary to see mothers and their children sleeping together on the floor in this 77,000 square foot facility, the toughest thing to see? These infants, alone, napping mid-morning in this makeshift nursery. They are just some of the nearly 300 unaccompanied children here without parents, they are being cared for by members of the Coast Guard. This is the whole 55,000 square foot park. 

MCALEENAN: We just walked the whole perimeter. 

CARMEN QUALIA: You — you just went around the entire perimeter. 

O’DONNELL: And was any of this cleaned up or dressed up for us? 

MCALEENAN: No. 

QUALIA: No. Absolutely not. 

O’DONNELL: We had exclusive access to this facility. There was no one we weren't allowed to speak with and nowhere we couldn't go. This is not like anything I've ever seen before. We were here with Kevin McAleenan, acting Secretary of Homeland Security. Also with us, Carmen Qualia, the chief border patrol agent who runs the facility in the Rio Grande Valley. [TO MCALEENAN] Have you ever let cameras inside here before like this? 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Exclusive; Acting DHS Sec. Discusses Migrant Crisis]

QUALIA: No.

MCALEENAN: I made the decision to take the risk and bring cameras in to be transparent about what we're facing and to show that to the American people and make sure that our Congress knows what we need to help us address this crisis. 

O’DONNELL [TO MCALEENAN]: You realize this may cause more criticism of what's going on here. 

MCALEENAN: I think we need a national conversation based on the facts that are actually happening on our border to try to address and solve the problem. 

O’DONNELL: A year ago, the country was shocked by still photos showing children being held in overcrowded cages. Today, it is cleaner and more well organized, but it is still hard to look at. [TO MCALEENAN] I mean, you're the acting secretary. 

MCALEENAN: Right. 

O’DONNELL [TO MCALEENAN]: You're saying, this is not good enough. 

MCALEENAN: I've been saying it for a year.

O’DONNELL: The conditions for families there are much different than at the McAllen Border Patrol Station for adults where Vice President Mike Pence visited last week. [TO MCALEENAN] We're here at the McAllen border station. It's the busiest there is, right? 

MCALEENAN: Right. 

O’DONNELL [TO MCALEENAN]: How is it that they just got shower units last week? 

MCALEENAN: So that's been the result of lack of funding to provide all the services we’d like to provide. We prioritize children, obviously. We prioritize families second. And single adults are the third to get that kind of humanitarian support. 

O’DONNELL [TO MCALEENAN]: So you're blaming some of the past conditions on Congress's lack of funding? 

MCALEENAN: It's been a critical issue. 

O’DONNELL: McAleenan says the solution is a so-called tent city named “Donna” which is expanding. He says it's far better suited to house new migrants. 

MCALEENAN: It provides a lot more capacity. The big change of the overcrowding is people are uncomfortable because there are too many in small areas. We’re going to be able to reduce that. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: CBS News Exclusive]

O’DONNELL: And those facilities possible because of the $4.6 billion supplemental that was approved. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Asylum Showdown]

O’DONNELL: Now, many migrants come to America illegally because entering as a legal asylum seeker is getting more difficult. Mireya Villarreal is in Brownsville, Texas, and shows us why the odds of getting asylum are growing longer and longer. Mireya? 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Asylum Seekers Wait Months in Mexico]

MIREYA MILLARREAL: You know, the wait is getting worse, partially because the U.S. government has ramped up their metering efforts. Metering is where U.S. Customs agents at this bridge and other legal ports of entry force asylum seekers to turn back around, go back into Mexico, put their name on a list, and then wait there until they're called. Here in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the bridge from Brownsville, Texas, the wait to request asylum seems endless. How long have you been here waiting? 

UNIDENTIFIED ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT #1 [TRANSLATED BY VILLARREAL]: I have been waiting here two and a half months.

VILLARREAL: Afraid she'll lose her place in line if she's not close by, Yolayle Gonzalez is sleeping on the sidewalk that lines the gates of the bridge, hoping that her name is called. 

UNIDENTIFIED ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT #2 [TRANSLATED BY VILLARREAL]: It's been two weeks and no one has passed through. 

VILLARREAL: This family tells me they're out of money and have nowhere else to go. This is where the family lives. Two moms and two kids sleep here every night waiting to get into the U.S. She says right now she's getting really desperate. A lot of people are talking about crossing illegally. The desperation, which is leading people to risk their lives to cross the border. Nearly 300 migrants died while attempting to cross in 2018. Last month, this image of Oscar Ramirez and his two-year-old daughter Valeria drowning just outside this city caught the attention of the nation. 

O’DONNELL: And Mireya, do we know how many people are currently waiting to apply for asylum in Mexico? 

VILLARREAL: Right now, there are about 19,000 people waiting to request asylum in Mexico. To add to that, Norah, we also know there are over 325,000 pending applications filed here in the U.S. 

O’DONNELL: Alright. Mireya Villarreal, thank you and tomorrow, we’ll take you to the banks of the Rio Grande. We went with Border Patrol agents and acting Secretary McAleenan to see where the journey into the U.S. immigration system began for many of the families we spoke with today and we're not going to end there because Manuel Bojorquez is going to take us inside a federal shelter for migrant children, including infants and toddlers who entered the country without their parents. What is next for them? That's in a special Eye on America.

(....)

6:58 p.m. Eastern

O’DONNELL: A final note from here on the border: It's important to remember that every picture has a story, like the Border Patrol agent born in Mexico. Agent Eduardo Cantu understands the American dream, because he says he’s living it. He wants migrants to get that dream, but he says they need to come here legally as he did. When we walked into the detention center, you couldn't help but notice the sound of children laughing and playing, moms with their children attached to their hips, unsure of their future. It's hard to look away. There's no doubt there's a crisis, and today we met those at the center of it. 

NB Daily Immigration CBS CBS Evening News Norah O'Donnell Mireya Villarreal
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