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CBS, NBC Ballyhoo 'Military-Style Surge' Proposal in Immigration Bill

Thursday's CBS Evening News all but hinted that the border security measures included in a new compromise attached to the immigration reform bill in Congress was overkill. Scott Pelley emphasized, "To win over Republicans, negotiators today added a military-style surge for the southern border." NBC's Tamron Hall echoed Pelley on Friday's Today: "It [the bill] would involve fortifying the U.S.-Mexico border and flooding it with a military-style troop surge."

CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes also spotlighted how "the compromise...spares no expense to fortify the southern border....And it would blanket the border with infrared ground sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and drones."

Cordes led her report by trumpeting how "this deal...could be a turning point because the sweeping immigration reform bill that's been up for consideration will not become law without more Republican support." She continued with her "spares no expense" line about the compromise, and detailed the multi-billion dollar proposal:

NANCY CORDES: ...It would double the number of border patrol agents from 20,000 to nearly 40,000. It would fund the completion of 700 miles of border fencing. And it would blanket the border with infrared ground sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and drones....The $30 billion plan would establish a system at airports and seaports to identify visitors who have overstayed their visas. All of this would have to be installed and operational before the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants would be allowed to gain citizenship.

Near the end of the segment, the CBS journalist pointed out that "the plan is still being finalized, and should get a vote next week. The hope here is that a big bipartisan victory in the Senate will help to win over skeptical Republicans in the House, who favor a piecemeal approach to immigration reform that does not include, Scott, any pathway to citizenship."

The full transcript of Nancy Cordes' report from Thursday's CBS Evening News and Tamron Hall's news brief from NBC's Today on Friday:

06/20/2013
06:35 pm EDT
CBS Evening News

SCOTT PELLEY (teaser): Nancy Cordes is at the Capitol with a new immigration reform deal that would flood the Mexican border with federal agents.


06:35 pm EDT

SCOTT PELLEY: Well, there will be thousand of new jobs at the U.S. Border Patrol if an immigration reform deal that was hammered out today eventually becomes law. The U.S. Senate is working on an immigration bill that would give millions of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship. To win over Republicans, negotiators today added a military-style surge for the southern border.

Nancy Cordes has been tracking all of this for us all day on Capitol Hill. Nancy?

NANCY CORDES: Scott, this deal was worked out by about a dozen Senate Republicans, and it could be a turning point because the sweeping immigration reform bill that's been up for consideration will not become law without more Republican support.

CORDES (voice-over): The compromise, worked out by Senate Republicans, spares no expense to fortify the southern border. It would double the number of border patrol agents from 20,000 to nearly 40,000. It would fund the completion of 700 miles of border fencing. And it would blanket the border with infrared ground sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and drones.

Tennessee Republican Bob Corker led the negotiations.

SEN. BOB CORKER, (R), TENNESSEE (from speech on Senate floor): I don't know how anybody could argue that the reason they're not supporting this legislation is because we haven't addressed securing the border. We addressed that. We've addressed that in spades in this legislation.

CORDES: Nevada's Dean Heller was among the converted.

SEN. DEAN HELLER, (R), NEVADA (from press conference): Needless to say, I was one of skeptical senators – Republican senators – that this amendment – the work from these two guys brought me into this process.

CORDES: The $30 billion plan would establish a system at airports and seaports to identify visitors who have overstayed their visas. All of this would have to be installed and operational before the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants would be allowed to gain citizenship. But they would be able to gain temporary legal status in the meantime – a must for Democrats, but a deal-breaker for some conservatives, like Louisiana's David Vitter.

SEN. DAVID VITTER, (R), LOUISIANA (from press conference): It is an immediate amnesty – an immediate legalization – and then, this attempt at enforcement after that. We need to fundamentally reverse that order.

CORDES (on-camera): The plan is still being finalized, and should get a vote next week. The hope here is that a big bipartisan victory in the Senate will help to win over skeptical Republicans in the House, who favor a piecemeal approach to immigration reform that does not include, Scott, any pathway to citizenship.

PELLEY: Nancy, thank you very much.


06/21/2013
08:02 am EDT
NBC – Today

TAMRON HALL: Senate Republicans and Democrats moved toward a possible compromise last night on immigration reform. It would involve fortifying the U.S.-Mexico border and flooding it with a military-style troop surge. Under the emerging deal, border security is one of the main conditions that would have to be met before millions of undocumented immigrants could be eligible to obtain legal status.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.