NBC Laments 'Undocumented Immigrants' Who 'Find Themselves In the Middle of a Raging Debate'

In a report on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Miguel Almaguer portrayed illegal immigrants surging across the U.S. border as bystanders caught up in politics: "As most Americans celebrated Independence Day, thousands of undocumented immigrants from Central America – mostly women and children – find themselves in the middle of a raging debate with an uncertain future..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Almaguer touted "A show of support for Central American immigrants in San Diego" while also noting "five protesters arrested during a demonstration against those same immigrants" in Murrieta, California.

Despite initially using the term "undocumented immigrants," Alamaguer actually used the word "illegal" to describe their actions for the first time after a week of avoiding the term in his reporting. He proclaimed: "A microcosm of the heated emotions swirling around the illegal immigration of tens of thousands of Central American families."

Over the weekend, Almaguer promoted "the dream of a new life in America" for the tens of thousands flooding across the border. On Monday, he highlighted: "Esperanza and her 6-year-old son Edwin fled El Salvador, traveling seventeen days by foot and bus before reaching the Texas border. 'I just prayed and prayed the whole way,' she says, 'that God would help us and keep us safe.'"

On Wednesday, Today co-host Matt Lauer urged viewers use the Twitter handle #RefugeRiders to offer comments on the growing crisis.

In contrast to Almaguer's Today report, on Monday's CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell had no problem using the term "illegal immigrants" while introducing the story: "Advocates and opponents of illegal immigrants faced off at several  weekend protests."

In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes featured a sound bite from Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham demanding the deportation of those crossing the border illegally. She also noted: "Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar, whose district borders Mexico, said the President should have acted sooner."

Cuellar explained: "With all due respect to the administration, they are one step behind. They should have seen this coming a long time ago."

Cordes wrapped up the segment by summarizing both sides: "Republicans argue that some of the White House's policies have sent a signal to would-be immigrants that children who get here won't be deported, but the White House argues that House Republicans have blocked a comprehensive immigration bill that would, dramatically beef up border security."

On Today, while Almaguer found room for a sound bite of Los Angeles Times writer Sonia Nazario sympathizing with the illegal immigrants, he provided no time for any Republican and made no mention of a Democrat like Cuellar criticizing Obama's handling of the situation.

ABC's Good Morning America provided no coverage of the immigration crisis on Monday.


Here is a full transcript of Alamaguer's July 7 report on Today:

7:17 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let's go to Washington now, where President Obama and Congress are facing some tough decisions as they return from the holiday weekend. Perhaps none more pressing than the sudden surge of immigrant families crossing the U.S. border after fleeing violence in their home countries. NBC's Miguel Almaguer has been following this story. Miguel, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Immigration Border Crisis Grows; More Children Pour In Amid Protests & Rallies]

MIGUEL ALMAGUER: Savannah, good morning. As most Americans celebrated Independence Day, thousands of undocumented immigrants from Central America – mostly women and children – find themselves in the middle of a raging debate with an uncertain future inside holding facilities like this one all across the southwest.

A show of support for Central American immigrants in San Diego. Sixty miles away in Murrieta, five protesters arrested during a demonstration against those same immigrants. A microcosm of the heated emotions swirling around the illegal immigration of tens of thousands of Central American families.

Esperanza and her 6-year-old son Edwin fled El Salvador, traveling seventeen days by foot and bus before reaching the Texas border. "I just prayed and prayed the whole way," she says, "that God would help us and keep us safe." Well over 50,000 children have crossed the U.S. border since last October. Seventy-five percent of them are from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. NBC's Stephanie Gosk is there.  

STEPHANIE GOSK: It's illegal for children in Honduras to cross into Guatemala without their parents, but these border patrol say there's very little they can do to stop it. They're responsible for about forty-five miles of the border and there's only twenty of them.

SONIA NAZARIO: You have to be crazy to embark on this journey.

ALMAGUER: Pulitzer Prize winning author Sonia Nazario should know. She made the trek during research for her book, Enrique's Journey. [To Rosario] How treacherous is it?

NAZARIO: The journey is incredibly dangerous. There are bandits alongside the rails who will rob you and rape you and sometimes kill you.

ALMAGUER: How to handle the influx of immigrants and families like these, dividing the nation and Congress. Jeh Johnson is the Homeland Security secretary.

JEH JOHNSON: Our message to those who come here illegally, our border is not open to illegal migration.

ALMAGUER: Today the Honduran government confirms that families being held inside facilities like this one will eventually be deported back to that country. They say they are expecting up to ten flights a week starting in the next two weeks. Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Miguel Almaguer along the border for us this morning, thank you.

Here is a full transcript of the July 7 report on CBS This Morning:

7:03 AM ET

NORAH O’DONNELL: We'll start with this. The White House and Congress face new pressure to act on immigration. Advocates and opponents of illegal immigrants faced off at several  weekend protests. Six demonstrators were arrested after a scuffle with police in Murrieta, California.

JEFF GLOR: The Homeland Security Secretary says there is no easy way to deal with the flood of children crossing the border illegally. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill where lawmakers are expected to take on the crisis as they return from the holiday recess. Good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. One of the first things Congress will need to do is consider a request from President Obama for about $2 billion to help deal with some of these immigration problems. The administration also wants Congress to adjust a Bush-era law that says that these kids coming alone from Central America countries must be taken into custody and get a deportation hearing before they can be sent back. Over the weekend, around a hundred undocumented immigrants, mostly families and unaccompanied children, were transported to a shelter in Las Cruces, New Mexico. More than a hundred more were flown to San Diego, headed for a border processing facility. According to the Border Patrol, 52,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed into the U.S. over the past nine months, nearly double the number from the previous year. On Face the Nation, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham said there is only one solution.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, we have send to them back because if you don't, you’re going to incentivize people throughout that part of the world to keep sending their children here.

CORDES: But Homeland secretary Jeh Johnson said deporting children who came here alone isn't easy.

HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: We're taking a number of steps to including turning around people faster. We've already dramatically reduced the turnaround time, the deportation time.

CORDES: The influx has become a flash point in border towns like Murrieta, California, where protesters turned away busloads of immigrants headed for a Border Patrol facility last week. Many of them come from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, escaping violence and poverty and tricked by smugglers into thinking children would get amnesty when they get here. Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar, whose district borders Mexico, said the President should have acted sooner.

CONGRESSMAN HENRY CUELLAR: With all due respect to the administration, they are one step behind. They should have seen this coming a long time ago.,

CORDES: Republicans argue that some of the White House's policies have sent a signal to would-be immigrants that children who get here won't be deported, but the White House argues that House Republicans have blocked a comprehensive immigration bill that would, dramatically beef up border security, Norah.

O’DONNELL: All right, Nancy, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC