On the Thursday morning broadcasts, both ABC and NBC gave full reports on illegal immigrant children being separated from their families and detained at a holding center in Texas. Both networks gave sympathetic spin blaming the Trump administration's immigration policy for separating families, but NBC's take was so over-the-top that it compared the kids to animals locked up in cages and the detention center as worse than a prison.
Today anchor Hoda Kotb led into correspondent Jacob Soboroff’s report June 14 by blaming Trump straight away.
“[A] first look behind the doors of America's largest detention facility for migrant children. It's in Texas and being pushed to capacity because of a Trump administration policy that separates parents and children entering the U.S. Illegally,” Kotb said as Soboroff gushed he was dismayed by what he saw inside.
“This was shocking to see, quite frankly,” he stated, talking outside the detention facility. As Soboroff explained, cameras weren't allowed inside, but the department of Health and Human Services provided the network with b-roll footage of what it looked like inside. Soboroff provided the sobering details:
“...[P]ushed to capacity, crammed bedrooms, kids in line for food. The kids here don't get out much, spending almost 22 hours a day indoors. They also don't talk with their parents very much either. We were told cases of psychological distress is something they see here. With some of the kids being medicated for mental health issues without their parents even knowing it,” he touted.
“If the Trump Administration is successful” Soboroff hyped, “all families” that entered illegally were going to be separated. “The kids are going to come to a place just like this,” he lamented.
But the footage shown on NBC betrayed Soboroff’s dramatic description. Video shown made the center look more like a summer camp or daycare then anything else, with kids watching TV, playing sports and games.
Gushing more about the boys being “ripped apart” from their families, he compared it to a prison. “I have been inside federal prisons. I have been inside county jails, and I have been inside, you know, detention centers of all kinds, and effectively that's what this is,” the reporter said.
A shocked Kotb reacted with sympathy. “Gosh, when you think about 22 hours a day inside for some of these kids, it seems like a lot. You wonder how they are fairing,” she said in dismay.
Soboroff called the situation “crazy” and explained how the kids were akin to animals locked up in cages.
“The craziest thing is, when you go inside, one of the officials said to us, do me a favor, smile at the kids, because while they aren’t in cages, they feel like animals locked up in cages being looked at,” he gushed.
ABC's report by Tom Llamas on Good Morning America was just as sympathetic but not nearly biased in rhetoric. But ABC also parroted Democrats, putting the blame solely on the Trump Administration for families being separated.
Anchor Michael Strahan opened the ABC report hyping a “debate raging” over “the administration's policy of separating families who cross the border illegally.” Llamas went on to tout Democrats like John Lewis joining protesters outside of custom and borders headquarters, “demanding an end to the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy which has led to families being separated at the border.” After showing off the facility, Llamas and Robin Roberts empathized how lonely the boys at the detention center must be without their parents.
“[O]ne can only imagine, Robin, what it is like at night when they are alone in the strange facility away from their parents,” Llamas stated.
Read the full transcripts below:
MICHAEL STRAHAN: Turning now to the immigration battle on capitol hill. The house preparing to vote or two major bills next week as debate rages over the administration's policy of separating families who cross the border illegally. Our chief national affairs correspondent Tom Llamas, he is near the border in Brownsville, Texas, at the country's largest licensed shelter housing undocumented immigrant children. Good morning, Tom
TOM LLAMAS: Michael, good morning to you. That shelter is just behind me. If it looks like a Walmart that's because that is what it used to be. It now houses boys from the ages of 10 to 17 years old. They spend 22 hours a day inside of that facility and for the first time we were part of a small group of journalists allowed inside. What we saw? They are nearing capacity and space is running out.
PROTESTERS: What do you want?
LLAMAS: Several house Democrats joined protesters outside the customs and border patrol headquarters demanding an end to the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy which has led to families being separated at the border.
REP JOHN LEWIS: That's not right. That's not fair. We have to say something. We have a system to do something.
LLAMAS: Even one of the president's biggest supporters breaking with him, evangelist Franklin graham.
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: I think it's disgraceful, it's terrible to see families ripped apart and I don't support that one bit.
LLAMAS: Overnight ABC news learning a change could be coming. House Republicans set to put two immigration bills to a vote. Dealing with border security, the wall and a possible path for dreamers. But also a provision prohibiting the separation of children and parents at the border.
And so many people have been asking what happens to those children once they’re separated from their parents? They're brought here to a facility where they're taken care of by the federal government. This is as far as our cameras are allowed to go. It says keep out, private property. This facility is so big it used to be a Walmart super center.
This is what it looks like inside, this footage shot by the department of health and human services during a tour we took of the facility. This megashelter is nearly at capacity, close to 1500 boys 10 to 17 years old.
Since May nearly 700 children have been separated from their parents. At this facility in Brownsville children are allowed two calls a week and are allowed outside only two hours a day. From what we could see for the most part the shelter ser well staffed and the children are taken care of. There are a lot of actives to keep them occupied during the day. But one can only imagine, Robin, what it is like at night when they are alone in the strange facility away from their parents, the average length of stay now at facilities just like this across the country is 52 days.
ROBIN ROBERTS: 52 days away from their families and sometimes longer. All right, Tom, thank you very much.
HODA KOTB: Now to the renewed fight over immigration and a first look behind the doors of America's largest detention facility for migrant children. It's in Texas and being pushed to capacity because of a Trump administration policy that separates parents and children entering the U.S. Illegally. NBC’s Jacob Soboroff was one of the first journalists invitedinside. Good morning Jacob.
JACOB : Good morning to you. This was shocking to see, quite frankly. This morning there are 1,500 young boys waking up inside this former Walmart, and with so many families crossing right here in South Texas and being split up, the overcrowding crisis doesn't look like it will be letting up anytime soon. Texas's Rio Grande Valley is home to more people caught by border control than anywhere else on the southern border, and when you come here, it's not hard to find them. A few months ago we met Hondurans Edwin and Edwin Junior as they turned themselves in seeking asylum.
TRANSLATOR:: A lot of problems in our country.
SOBOROFF: Were you scared to come to the country?
TRANSLATOR: A lot of bad people, a lot of bad guys.
SOBOROFF: The Department of Homeland Security would not tell us if they separated the Edwins or were they are today. If the Trump Administration is successful in implementing his policy prosecuting 100% of migrants who cross illegally, all families that enter just like the Edwins did, are going to be separated. The kids are going to come to a place just like this, this is the Casa Padre shelter in Brownsville, Texas, and there are over 1,000 young boys 10 to 17 inside there right now, and here's a van coming in right here, and looks like there's boys coming in right now. They didn’t let us take our cameras inside.
But The department of Health and Human Services took these photos of the shelter, where we saw a facility pushed to capacity, crammed bedrooms, kids in line for food. The kids here don't get out much, spending almost 22 hours a day indoors. They also don't talk with their parents very much either. We were told cases of psychological distress is something they see here. With some of the kids being medicated for mental health issues without their parents even knowing it. An hour and a half later we were back outside.
I have been inside federal prisons. I have been inside county jails, and I have been inside, you know, detention centers of all kinds, and effectively that's what this is.
I don’t know how you’re prepared to see that. It's 10 to 17-year-old boys that are without their families, and some came on their own and some have been just separated and ripped apart, It just makes you think about what about the kids 0-10? and you think about what about the little girls and the babies? This is about as good as it's going to get in there.
KOTB: Gosh, when you think about 22 hours a day inside for some of these kids, it seems like a lot. You wonder how they are fairing. Also then what? After they are in the facility, then what happens to them?
SOBOROFF: The craziest thing is, when you go inside, one of the officials said to us, do me a favor, smile at the kids, because while they aren’t in cages, they feel like animals locked up in cages being looked at, they spend a couple months inside a facility like this, and for all intents and purposes, the quality of the care is good. These are trained and licensed professionals. They are looking for sponsors on the way out. In terms of what happens next, there's a lot of overcrowding. If these kids end up in 10 cities, The next generation of them, they won't necessarily have the same quality of care like these kids do in this former Walmart do this morning.