All three morning shows on Tuesday worried about Governor Rick Perry's "controversial," expensive move to send the National Guard to the Texas border. But it was ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday that offered the most annoyed commentary. GMA correspondent Jim Avila began his report by lecturing, "But the border patrol says [National Guard troops are] not needed because federal law prohibits the military from enforcing civilian laws."
Avila also highlighted that Operation Strong Safety comes "with a hefty price tag of $12 million per month." The journalist continued his critique, deriding, "The head of the border patrol telling ABC News he has other needs. It's not about detaining the child immigrants. They're giving themselves up." An irritated Avila added, "It's about where to put them and neither Governor Perry or the Guard has offered any help with that." [MP3 audio here.]
ABC repeatedly confused the issue. Avila referred to National Guard troops not being able to "send immigrants back across the border." A network graphic said Perry wants to deter "immigrants." In reality, the move is to stop the flow of illegal immigrants.
Additionally, it's true that the National Guard cannot arrest anyone. But activating them will allow the border patrol to devote time and energy that they otherwise cannot.
On CBS This Morning, reporter Manuel Bojorquez highlighted questions about Perry's motives: "Texas Democrats also believe Perry is using the crisis for national attention. Ahead of a rumored 2016 White House run."
The journalist included this quote:
EMMANUEL GARCIA (Texas Democrats Communications Director): If you listen to local law enforcement in the Rio Grande valleys and local elected officials, they're clearly saying that what they need is additional deputies, additional sheriffs. They don't need the national Guard to militarize the border.
However, Bojorquez offered a more balanced report than ABC, noting, "... More than 200,000 criminal aliens have been booked into Texas jails since 2008."
He also allowed, "Governor Rick Perry said he was sympathetic to the plight of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, but all the attention has shifted resources from keeping crime out of his state."
NBC's Today offered the least amount of coverage, a news brief in the 7am hour. Co-host Matt Lauer referred to Perry's "controversial move." Natalie Morales explained, "Border patrol facilities have been overwhelmed by tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants from Central America including children who started to pour into the United States this year."
On Monday night, NBC ignored Perry's border move.
A transcript of the July 22 GMA segment is below:
ABC GRAPHIC: Texas Sends Troops to Border: Major Push to "Deter" Immigrants
ROBIN ROBERTS: Now to the latest on the crisis along our southern border. One of President Obama's harshest critics, Texas Governor Rick Perry, taking matters into his own hands calling in the National Guard. ABC's Jim Avila has details for us from Washington. Good morning, Jim.
JIM AVILA: Good morning, Robin. The Texas governor is putting more eyes and more guns on the border. But the border patrol says they're not needed because federal law prohibits the military from enforcing civilian laws. This morning, National Guard troops are on orders to mobilize, preparing to head to the southern border for what Texas Governor Rick Perry is calling "Operation strong safety" with a hefty price tag of $12 million per month.
RICK PERRY: What we're asking the National Guard to do is to be a force multiplier. To be there as a partner with the law enforcement.
AVILA: By next month, 1,000 National Guard troops will be there. But by law they cannot make any arrests. Instead acting only as a visual deterrent. The Texas general in charge confirms his troops cannot send immigrants back across the border or even use the weapons the guard carries.
MAJOR GENERAL JOHN NICHOLS (National Guard): We're planning on referring and deterring so deterring them with visible presence.
AVILA: The White House calling the plan merely a symbolic gesture.
JOSH EARNEST: What we're focused on is making sure we have the necessary resources at the border to deal with this problem on a sustained basis.
AVILA: On the border, no signs that the surge of thousands of undocumented immigrants, largely mothers with children or kids unaccompanied by an adult, is weakening. Jorge Ramos of our sister network Fusion, demonstrated the danger of the last leg in the treacherous journey across the border, swimming the perilous waters. Ramos also traveling through the tunnels that others use to make the perilous trip.
JORGE RAMOS: For many immigrants, this is the first glimpse that they have of the United States. This is it.
AVILA: The head of the border patrol telling ABC News he has other needs. It's not about detaining the child immigrants. They're giving themselves up. It's about where to put them and neither Governor Perry or the Guard has offered any help with that. Robin.
ROBERTS: Okay, Jim. And in your piece we just saw Jorge. And Jorge Ramos of our sister network Fusion will anchor a special Edge of a Crisis tonight, 10 eastern from the U.S. and Mexico border.